In its last meeting of 2005, the New York City Council enacted legislation to make the city a quieter, cleaner and more environmentally-friendly place to live. Perhaps one of the major initiatives sought by the mayor’s office was revising the city’s 30-year old noise code. Honking horns, noisy refuse trucks, construction clamor, boom boxes and car alarms are just some of the undeniable facts of life in living in the city that never sleeps. However, residents may sleep a little quieter when that outdoor noise, music and even barking dogs are muzzled by new restrictions that carry fines ranging from $50 to $8,000 depending on the nature of the offense.
Stamping Out Noise
Without question, noise is the number one complaint fielded by operators at the city’s Citizen Service Center 311 hotline, according to mayoral spokesman Jonathan Werbell.
In 1972, New York City became one of the first cities in the nation to adopt a comprehensive noise code. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who is beginning his second term, has made noise reduction a major campaign initiative. In October 2003, he began Operation Silent Night, a program that calls on the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the New York Police Department (NYPD) and other city agencies to target noise problems in 24 different enforcement zones throughout the city.
Based on over 300,000 noise complaints logged, according to the Mayor’s Management Report for Fiscal Year 2005, the DEP issued 1,566 noise violations while the NYPD issued 19,234 unreasonable noise summonses during the fiscal year.
Noise complaints range from the cacophony emanating from bars, nightclubs or restaurants to blaring horns from cars or motorcycles, music from home or personal entertainment systems or automobile sound systems, or just loud or disorderly individuals. Enforcement measures are varied depending on conditions observed, according to the mayor.