Hamptons ‘Leaf Law’ Goes into Effect, Draws Protests

Perfect lawn
Photo: Katarzyna Białasiewicz/123RF

Hamptons homeowners are advised that starting this week, with the so-called “leaf law” going into effect, ridding your lawn of non-grass organic matter has become mandatory across the area. Homeowners are now required to clear their lawns on a weekly basis, using blowers, rakes or any tools at their disposal, or risk paying a fine.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “Just as we wouldn’t countenance having a yard filled with piles of garbage, we are no longer going to overlook a yard covered with leaves or other extraneous organic matter.”

The last point is crucial, Hirsch adds. “It’s been popularly referred to as the ‘leaf’ law, but it obviously applies to more than just leaves. Sticks, twigs, you name it. If it’s not grass, it shouldn’t be on your lawn.”

Hirsch says the Hamptons Police have set up a new unit to patrol neighborhoods and keep an eye on the buildup of leaves and twigs on lawns.

Naturally, the new law has been controversial. It was passed at a winter session of the Hamptons House and Garden Authority (HHGA), which is widely seen as being beholden to the powerful Hamptons Landscapers Association (HLA), a lobbying firm supported by large financial donations from the massive leaf blower manufacturing industry.

On Saturday, a large group of indignant homeowners picketed the HHGA offices—which are headquartered in a sleek oceanfront property in Sagaponack, reportedly paid for by the HLA—demanding answers about the passage of the new law. Police were on hand to control the crowds.

“Isn’t it enough that we are living with the constant roar of leaf blowers!” shouted Mallory Thomas, an East Hampton resident who was among the protestors. “Now they’re literally demanding that we become a part of the problem—and all so that somebody can sell more leaf blowers to make more noise!”

Thomas spoke for many when she demanded to know what harm could come from allowing sticks and twigs to remain on her lawn until the fall.

Blaise Blatter, the Chairman of the HHGA, did make a brief appearance in front of the protestors to defend the Authority’s decision. Dressed in a sharp, tailored suit, he was dismissive of protestors’ concerns.

“Look, we used to let twigs and sticks foul area yards for months at a time,” Blatter said. “That was because removing them meant a lot of arduous work with rakes. But this is the 21st century, folks. There’s no reason why you can’t get out there every day with a leaf blower and make your yard spotless. This law is just about making official what ought to be plain common sense.”

The protest broke up without incident.

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