by Bradley Vite
September 22, 2008
Mayor Dick Moore announced clearly to the City Council and the public that his administration was launching a “war on noise.” Moore ran on the platform of a cleaner, quieter and safer city.
Moore has instituted a full-time noise enforcement officer, Mike Bogart, who is one of the finest officers on the force. The Elkhart Police Department is also working diligently to attack the noise problem.
There have been editorials in recent years addressing noise and its harmful effects on health and the quality of life. Hopefully, the next editorial on noise will talk about the success of noise abatement in the city of Elkhart. Noise is a health issue as important as smoking and equally as destructive. It has economic implications, as well.
Towns and cities across America are becoming more engaged in their efforts to fight noise. The more progressive and proactive city councils and police departments realize that in order to fight crime, you have to fight noise. The Department of Justice found a strong correlation between boom boxes (noise) and other criminal activity. This has been borne out here in Elkhart, with the arrests of people stopped for noise who have outstanding warrants, guns, drugs, meth labs, expired or invalid licenses, stolen vehicles, and the list goes on.
The most progressive police departments now have noise enforcement on their radar and they’re attacking it aggressively. In Peoria, Ill., and Sarasota, Fla., a vehicle is impounded if the stereo can be heard 25 feet away — no questions asked. You can view the two-minute video by logging on to (noisefree.org) and scrolling down the page to videos. In Peoria there is no boom-box problem today. In May, Sarasota adopted the same ordinance and the noise is being reduced. In New York fines range up to $25,000.
In view of the above, our noise ordinance is fair yet effective in fighting crime without raising taxes. Any noise from boom boxes, motorcycles, cars and trucks that can be heard from 35 feet away will get you a ticket. Take off your loud pipes, turn down your stereo, replace your broken muffler/exhaust and be a good neighbor.
Moore recognized that having Elkhart selected as one of the noisiest cities in America was not acceptable. Quality of life should not take a back seat to anything — including business expansion as was the case in the Mega-Shredder debacle.
Statistical data, polls and news articles all point to noise as being the No. 1 complaint of Americans across the country and the No. 1 reason people move from their neighborhoods (Time, USA Today, Preservation). It is a public health and safety issue.
There is a fundamental right to a peaceful and quiet enjoyment of our property and there is absolutely no right to make noise. Enjoy your motorcycle, enjoy your stereo, enjoy your vehicle — but do so within the constraints of the law and in respect of and for your neighbor.
Bradley Vite, an Elkhart Realtor, is an anti-noise activist.