New Hampshire police plan to crack down on noisy motorcycles. WCVB reports that Portsmouth, New Hampshire police are getting serious about super loud motorcyles, and they will be “investing in equipment and training needed to recognize if a motorcycle is illegally loud.” What’s the standard for illegally loud? Apparently in New Hampshire it’s 92 decibels. We would suggest, however, that the standard should be 83 decibels, which was the noise level limit established by the EPA back when the agency was properly funded and not being attacked from all sides.
Still, whatever the applicable decibel level, at least the Portsmouth police are taking motorcycle noise seriously. How seriously? They plan to set up checkpoints to test motorcycle noise level. Let’s hope this is the start of a nationwide trend.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has released an audit showing a “growing number of noise complaints related to nightlife establishments in New York City,” with noise complaints more than doubling between 2010 and 2015. DiNapoli says that the audit “highlights the need for the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to better communicate and crack down on bars and clubs with persistent noise problems.” Despite the doubling of complaints, “including tens of thousands involving nightlife,” DiNapoli’s auditors “found limited communication between the SLA and NYPD to address the grievances.” Incredibly, bars and nightclubs with “hundreds of complaints lodged against them faced little or no repercussions.”
Residents of the Lower East Side, an area hit particularly hard by nightlife noise, won’t be surprised by the report, as that neighborhood has become increasingly popular as a nightlife destination. In fact, residents there are working together to stop a force they see destroying their quality of life. Stacey Delikat, Fox5NY, writes about the residents’ efforts, and reports that party buses pull up at 2:00 a.m., the streets are clogged with drunks, and there is vomit on the sidewalks, something the residents call “just an average weekend on the Lower East Side.”
So now that the state and city are aware of the increase in complaints and the failure to address them, what’s the plan? DiNapoli recommends that the SLA “develop a formal process to access and analyze 311 noise complaint data….and develop and implement a formal communication protocol with the NYPD” and other public oversight authorities responsible for addressing noise matters that “pertain to SLA-licensed establishments.” DiNapoli also suggests that the NYPD enhance record keeping of noise complaints to improve “management analysis of response times and the effectiveness of the actions taken” and develop “system-wide procedures to follow up on establishments with high volumes of noise complaints” that include “periodic communications with the SLA.”
While better communication between the NYPD and SLA can’t hurt, the report states that although the SLA took actions against establishments with a high level of complaints, “actions were rarely taken (if ever) against certain establishments with comparatively high levels of noise complaints.” Rather, the report notes, “officials usually do not open cases based solely on noise complaints, such complaints are coupled with other issues (such as alcohol sales to minors or non-compliance with building codes) that officials believe are of greater importance.” Perhaps the report should simply have recommended that the SLA make noise complaints a higher priority.
In any event, within 90 days of the Comptroller’s report the SLA is obligated to report to the governor, comptroller, and various legislative leaders to tell them what steps were taken to implement recommendations, which recommendations were not taken, and why; the NYPD is requested to do the same.
Next up? The press release ends with a note that the Comptroller “is currently conducting an audit on construction noise in the city.”
You’re finally settled into your new place! And then you learn that your neighbor is a DJ…
New rules limit NYPD’s ability to address noise complaints. Just in time for the summer, New York City police “will no longer be allowed to go onto private property and remove sound equipment when responding to noise complaints.” The reason, reports the NY Daily News, is that a new directive provides that “’warrantless entry’…is not authorized solely for the purpose of abating noise conditions.” Under the directive, if police are not given permission to enter an address for which a noise complaint has been made, “the officers ‘may return on the following day and issue summonses as appropriate.’”
While we understand–and applaud–the police department’s concern about officers engaging in warrantless entries, providing that officers “may return the following day” (unlikely) to issue a summons seems like a recipe for disaster: take one obnoxious and indifferent neighbor, add in too much noise, stir in a bucket full of frayed nerves, and shake vigorously. If the NYPD wants to stop warrantless entries for noise complaints while maintaining the peace, maybe it’s time to extend night court hours beyond 1:00 a.m. and allow officers to get a timely summons.
Taipei, Taiwan installs sound-activated cameras to target noisy motorists. The Taipei Times reports that the Taipei Department of Environmental Protection has “unveiled a noise-activated camera to photograph motorists who make excessive noise at night.” The camera is activated when noise recordings reach 84 decibels or more between 10:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. When that happens, the camera will send the image and decibel level to a laptop computer operated by inspectors who will be by the roadside. So how much will you have to pay for the privilege of honking your horn at night? Between NT $1,800 to $3,600 (roughly US $57 to $114), depending on the decibel level.
Residents want police crackdown on loud, fast motorcycles. The complaint isn’t against all motorcyclists–it never is. Rather, the residents in this article are angry at “[p]eople driving loud bikes, deliberately modified for the sole purpose of being extra loud and obnoxious.” We agree. Those extra loud tail pipes do not come with a new bike, by the way. They are aftermarket purchases, which clearly shows that rider is deliberately making noise because they want to. We believe that is called “anti-social behavior,” and the police should be citing motorcyclists who engage in this activity. Should. But the article highlights a problem with enforcement, namely that the police refuse to do it:
Lisgo would like to see every officer equipped with a simple sound-measuring device, just as officers are equipped with breathalyzers to check for impaired drivers. She said her efforts to persuade police to crack down so far have been unsuccessful.
“They tell me they just don’t have enough manpower and they have better things to do and I just don’t buy that.”
Either do we. Good luck to the residents of West Kootenay. We hope you are successful in stopping this scourge.
No doubt someone may have found the performance annoying–busking is busking whatever the caliber of the performer. That said, there is nothing in the article linked above that suggests that the police were responding to a complaint. That is, it’s unclear whether they saw an opportunity to protect he streets from opera but were provoked into arresting the singer when she refused to shut down her amplified orchestral accompaniment.
Truth be told, we’re torn on who we should support in this story. On the one hand, we would prefer to not be bombarded by amplified sound. On the other, we wonder whether the police are normally as diligent when dealing with noise criminals. Adding that we wish the cops were as vigilant with motorcyclists sporting aftermarket tail pipes as they are with desperate opera singers carrying amplifiers.
New app targets noisy neighbours, “permits anyone with a smartphone to record and upload a snapshot of the actual noise nuisance that they are experiencing.” While there is the possibility of the app being used as a tool of harassment, the Belfast Telegraph reports that “there are inbuilt safeguards within the technology that will provide verification to the council’s investigating officer of the recording’s authenticity and a facility to ‘block’ those who have used the app maliciously.”
Maybe U.S. cities should consider employing technology to help them monitor and respond to noise complaints. If nothing else, it could help address the frustration suffered by those trying to lodge complaints, as a visit by the police or other authority often comes after the offensive noise has stopped.
it turns out to be hedgehogs having sex. So how just how loud were these hedgehogs? According to Metro, “[t]heir lovemaking was so passionate – and noisy – that the homeowner called police to report the mysterious ‘loud panting’ noise.” The police quickly found the pair in flagrante delicto and the (obviously frustrated) hedgehogs scampered away upon discovery.
Ann Votaw writes about New Yorker’s number one complaint: noise. Trying to understand out how to stop the noise in her neighborhood, she contacted Arline Bronzaft, a leading environmental psychologist who advised five mayors on the consequences of noise pollution, who stated that “[n]o other city in the United States is more aware of intrusive sound than New York.” Ms. Bronzaft lauded the city’s 311 system, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the police department “for their dedication to the New York City Noise Code,” she acknowledged that 311 was effective at collecting metrics but was unsure of “how the system executes solutions leading to relief.”
New York City’s Noise Code and 311 system are good steps in combating noise pollution, but the focus must shift to enforcing the code and punishing offenders. Until noise polluters understand that there are consequences for their actions, they will continue to make life hellish for those around them.