July 1, 2004
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: Boston, Massachusetts has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for tolerating an avalanche of noise from car stereos, loud parties, motorcycles, car honking, car alarms, airplanes, trucks, buses, and sirens.
Michael Ebeid, a South End resident, commented that “I previously lived in New York City, where I endured significant noise pollution (in particular from car alarms and nightclubs). But Boston’s noise pollution is much, much worse. Boston has to be one of the noisiest cities in America. Excessive noise is destroying Boston’s quality of life.”
The streets of Boston are filled with the sounds of annoying noise. Ebeid states that he hears “at least two high-pitched, high-decibel, long-lasting emergency sirens every hour,” as well as the constant roar of city buses that squeal loudly because they are badly in need of service. He notes that “the endless rumbling of trucks is made even worse by the chronic disrepair of Boston’s streets.”
Adding to the clamor is unremitting car honking. Ebeid states that “Boston drivers are not known for their courteous behavior. They express their frustration with traffic congestion by honking their horns–to no avail, of course. New York City has passed an ordinance prohibiting car honking in residential areas, which it enforces effectively. Boston should do the same.”
Ebeid also reports that “boom cars” are a blight on the Boston soundscape: “On my corner, I hear a car stereo blaring at least once an hour. This pounding is unhealthy, invasive, and illegal. It denies citizens the right to enjoy their own homes.”
Noise Free America’s director, Ted Rueter, states that “the US Department of Justice concludes that the boom car culture is linked to drugs, crime, and violence. Boston police should take the boom car menace much more seriously.”
Ebeid’s neighborhood is also beset with packs of motorcyclists, “who zoom through our streets and serenade residents with exhaust systems seemingly designed to be as loud as possible.” And then there is the annoyance of car alarms, “which deter nothing other than peace and quiet. Car alarms are useless noisemakers. Does anyone still believe that they deter car theft? Car alarms should be banned.”
Another Boston resident, Armand Inezian, states that “urban noise is a serious problem. Loud noise can cause tremendous stress and makes a neighborhood feel unfriendly. Loud, angry-sounding, aggressive, expletive-laced music undercuts a neighborhood and lessens property values. Excessive noise makes it much more difficult to sleep, to work, to play, and to enjoy your surroundings.”
Inezian also notes that “more and more people are speaking out against noise. The public is beginning to understand that noise is related to aggravation, stress, hearing loss, and sleep deprivation.” Inezian states that the law supports the right to peace and quiet: “In the 1998 case of Shapiro v. Sutherland, a California Appeals Court ruled that a home owner must disclose local noise problems to potential buyers or be held for libel. Noise is a very important consideration in determining where to live.”
Noise Free America’s Rueter commented that “Boston should follow the lead of Chicago and New York in addressing noise pollution. In Chicago, car stereos that can be heard from 50 feet are subject to confiscation and a $615 fine. The ordinance has proven very effective and very popular. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has instituted Operation Silent Night, focusing on car alarms and noisy nightclubs. This initiative targets 24 high-noise neighborhoods with intensive enforcement measures.” Rueter observed that “since its inception in 2002, Operation Silent Night has netted 3,706 noise summonses and 33,996 Criminal Court summonses. It is clear that noise violators are often charged with other crimes as well–which is why the police should take strong measures against noise terrorism.”
Rueter noted that “Mayor Bloomberg is also seeking to toughen the city’s noise code, by placing restrictions on barking dogs, roaring air conditioning units, late-night and weekend construction activity, and soundtracks on ice cream trucks.” Bloomberg would also allow police to use a “plainly audible” standard to crack down on noise violators, instead of relying on cumbersome noise meters.
“Boston’s peace, civility, and livability are under attack,” said Rueter. “Unless Boston takes serious action against the scourge of noise pollution, Bean Town will soon become known as Boom Town.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group dedicated to opposing noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Flowmaster, Echo Manufacturing, Viper car alarms, and Governor Gray Davis. Its web site is http://www.noisefree.org.