May 1, 2009
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The Barona Band of Mission Indians of rural San Diego County, California has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America, for terrorizing their residential neighbors with constant noise from their motocross tracks. The tracks are only 100 yards from the homes of the San Diego Country Estates.
Year after year, the tracks have increased their sound level and frequency of events. What began as a small, part-time track for minibikes is now two full-time motocross tracks for bikes up to 530 cc. When unmuffled for closed-course use, the machines emit noise of 106 or more decibels, according to tests performed by Dirt Biker magazine. This is rock concert-level noise, five days a week, eight hours a day, including weekends. Recently, the track added a public address announcer–which has made the noise even worse. To be heard by the spectators, the announcer must be even louder than the motorcycles.
Sam Klondike, a non-Indian living next to the track, stated, “The advertising of the Barona Band proclaims that they are wonderful neighbors. We don’t understand why they won’t respect us, their neighbors, and simply move the track somewhere else on their 6,000 acre reservation where it won’t bother anyone. Most of their reservation is undeveloped; there are plenty of reasonable options.”
“We’ve asked, we’ve pleaded, we’ve begged them to stop the noise,” said Klondike. “All we get is their lawyers telling us that ‘the tribe will not agree to any discussion which seeks to deprive it of its sovereign authority to decide what uses will be made of the lands of its federal Indian reservation.'”
Klondike noted that “my wife started to cry when I told her they added Fridays to the schedule. It was our twice-monthly day off when we could invite guests over. Not any more. Our house is useless, and we can’t sell it because the real estate agents won’t even accept us as clients due to the noise–which they are legally required to disclose to potential buyers. It looks like we’ll lose our home and declare bankruptcy, even though we can afford the payments. We just can’t take the noise anymore. The Barona Indians have crushed our dreams in order to have their fun.”
“Our neighborhood is a ghost town during track events,” Klondike continued. People leave or try to endure the noise indoors. There are no children playing outside, no barbecues, no swimming. Our community is now dead because of what Barona is doing.”
Maryann Thomas, another San Diego Country Estates resident, stated that “the Barona Tribe will not acknowledge this audio assault because we are not Native Americans. If this assault was happening to a tribal family, they would probably shut down the track today. When my children are out of school for the summer, we will be living with my parents five days a week. We are fearful of the physical, emotional, and mental effects of exposure to such extremely high levels of noise five days a week on our family, especially the children.”
According to Thomas, “We no longer have any family get-togethers and our children cannot have their friends over. Easter was the last time we had a family gathering. The roar of the bikes made it impossible to open a window or door. Even with everything closed, the noise thunders through the windows and walls. There is no joy to living in our house. It is no longer a home; it is simply a place to sleep.”
More than 900 residents are directly affected by the Barona Indian reservation noise. These residents have created two web sites, San Diego County Estates Families and Boycott Barona Casino, which show residents trying to shout over the noise. The web sites also detail the 25-year controversy with the reservation.
The noise experienced by the San Diego Country Estates residents is far more than a mere “nuisance.” Numerous studies from the National Institute for Health and the World Health Organization demonstrate that noise harms people’s health, well-being, and quality of life. People who are chronically exposed to noise are much more likely to experience cardiovascular disease, due to the “fight or flight” physiological response.
Noise Free America is a national 501c3 citizens organization opposed to noise pollution. Previous “winners” of the award include Stockton, San Luis Obispo, California, and east Los Angeles.