July 1, 2020

Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet

For immediate release

Brian Belica
[email protected]

Renae Schultz
[email protected]

Ted Rueter
[email protected]

Chapel Hill: The new Modera Buckman apartment building in Portland, Oregon is the winner of this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for having a parking garage pedestrian alert system that sounds like a smoke alarm and can be heard from three blocks away.

Brian Belica, a Portland resident, notes that the apartment building on SE 12th and Belmont “has a parking garage alert system that is extremely loud and jarring. The alarm uses a smoke-alarm type noise that permeates the neighborhood as far as three blocks away and through closed windows at all hours. Other neighbors and I are frequently woken up by the sound.”

Here is a video, which is from two block away.

Renae Schultz, another Portland resident, stated that “the endless beeping makes it impossible to enjoy my patio and startles my dog and me. I wish they would do something about this horrible noise.”

The Portland city code considers the noise a “warning sound,” which means the only limitation is that it stays on for under three minutes in duration each time. There is no limit on the noise itself. The Oregon Commission for the Blind cited a Federal Highway Administration recommendation, which says for crosswalk signals (which is the closest to this garage alarm), the noise should not be audible from more than 12 feet away, and no more than 5 dB above ambient noise. The Modera apartment building has disregarded this recommendation.

Given that the noise is exempted from noise ordinance, the building owner, Mill Creek Residential, is not motivated to change the alarm. They claim it is at its lowest setting and that is all they can do. I started a petition demanding that the noise be stopped. The building owners know that they are damaging the mental and physical health of neighborhood residents.”

Belica notes, “I’ve sent the management company several recommendations for how to reduce the impact of the sound while still maintaining safety, even providing a recommendation that would reduce the number of beeps by 84 percent and obtaining quotes for different equipment for them. They clearly don’t appear to be prioritizing being a good neighbor. This is a massive developer, and their lack of attention and commitment to the neighborhood thus far is surprising and very disappointing.”

Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, stated that “there was a very similar situation recently in Toronto. Apparently, the Women’s College Hospital doesn’t agree with the idea that a hospital should be a quiet zone. The hospital installed a shrieking alarm to alert pedestrians that a car was exiting its parking garage. The alarm was so loud it could be heard from blocks away. This is completely ridiculous. Commercial enterprises should respect the right of the public to peace and quiet.”

After months of pressure from residents, the Mill Creek Residential management team has agreed to look into relocating and altering the alarm. The regional manager of the apartment complex is Tim Jellum: 503-928-3943; [email protected].

Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to excessive noise. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include San Luis Obispo, CaliforniaPalo Alto, California; and Phoenix, Arizona.