March 1, 2014
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: Gainesville, Florida has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for tolerating excessive noise from downtown bars, a biomass plant, and amplified noise from houses. Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, is also beset with constant noise from loud car stereos, thunderous motorcycles, and blasting leaf blowers. If you live in Gainesville, expect to be bombarded with noise.
Karen Orr, chairwoman of the Safe and Healthy Communities committee of the Florida League of Conservation Voters, noted that “Gainesville has a major problem with excessive noise from downtown bars. The Backyard bar frequently features rock bands with thumping drums and blasting guitars. There have also been nightclubs with open-air rooftops. The solution to the downtown noise problem is simple: keep the amplified events inside. If the noise is so loud that it’s still projected into residences, enforce the noise ordinance. That is the way to create a civil and vibrant downtown and protect the health and safety of those in adjacent residential neighborhoods.”
Debbie Martinez, a registered nurse and a former downtown business owner, stated that “there are numerous complaints concerning amplified music downtown. I suggest we seek to protect the health and safety of our citizens over profits. Noise pollution is a public health hazard and leads to premature death. Bar owners should bring their amplified music inside. Quality cities that have thriving businesses downtown do not have to resort to having their neighbors suffer from blaring, amplified sound. Respect for your patrons and neighbors is a great place to start when attempting to promote and grow your business.”
Despite the severe noise problems caused by outdoor bars in downtown Gainesville, the Gainesville City Commission is considering further weakening the largely-unenforced noise ordinance at the behest of several downtown bar owners.
A second major source of noise pollution in Gainesville is the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC). Neighbors describe the noise as “a continuous roar,” “jet planes revving up for takeoff,” and “being on an aircraft during operations.” Orr states that “GREC’s noise torture is a clear threat to the health, safety and welfare of its neighbors. City government is morally and legally responsible for it. The city has the duty and authority to stop GREC’s noise abuse. The Gainesville Police Department should be directed to enforce the city noise ordinance now.”
Despite the newly-installed baffles, the incinerator still projects noise into residential neighborhoods. Turkey Creek resident Judy Sim recently described being awakened to “a loud explosion of noise from the plant with the continual roaring.”
According to Sims, “The peace and tranquility of our neighborhood is gone. My health is being impacted by the disrupted sleep I am continually experiencing. My heart goes out to others suffering like me in Turkey Creek and Hague.”
Sims noted that she and her husband searched for a long time to find a quiet, friendly neighborhood in which to retire. She stated, “We found it here. Unfortunately, we never asked for the biomass plant–but we got it anyway, and we can’t afford to move.”
In his letter to The Gainesville Sun, Turkey Creek resident Peter Perkins spoke of the futility of calling the Gainesville police to protect neighbors from noise pollution: “We are certainly tired of of the noise/ air-polluting biomass plant that the thoughtless Gainesville City Commission foisted upon adjoining communities. After installation of the acoustic baffles, Turkey Creek is still exposed to clearly-audible nuisance when the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center is operating at certain levels. So we continue to call the useless complaint line that was set up by Gainesville/ GREC to avoid enforcement of an established noise ordinance.”
According to Karen Orr, “City noise victims know the police refuse to protect their health and safety by enforcing the noise ordinance and Gainesville Police Department records prove it. Now we have the tragic situation of a tenant of the city of Gainesville–GREC–persecuting their neighbors. These neighbors are desperate.”
A third prevalent source of unnecessary, excessive noise in Gainesville is “outdoor entertainment” equipment promoted by the home electronics industry, in the form of outdoor loudspeakers, tiki bars wired for sound, loudspeakers embedded in hot tubs, and televisions for the porch and patio. Orr stated that “Gainesville residents should be able to peacefully enjoy their own homes without hearing thunderous noise from ‘neighbors.’”
The World Health Organization documents the fact that noise is a serious health hazard, linked to hypertension, heart disease, hearing loss, headaches, ringing of the ears, impaired concentration, memory loss, poor job performance, and poor educational performance. Stress from noise can trigger depression, fatigue, hostility, aggression, violence, and even murder and suicide.
The proposed weakening of the Gainesville noise ordinance and continued lack of enforcement ensures that the continuous roar of noise in Gainesville will continue and intensify.
Noise Free America is a national citizens’ organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include the state of Florida; the Florida Marlins; the Sarasota, Florida ACLU; Lakeland, Florida; and St. Petersburg, Florida.