January 1, 2005
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: St. Petersburg, Florida has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for tolerating an epidemic of boom cars, hot rods, motorcycles, car alarms, leaf blowers, edgers, weed whackers, sirens, barking dogs, low-flying airplanes, and jet skis. The lax attitude of city officials toward noise has seriously harmed St. Petersburg’s quality of life.
“I’ve had my doors and windows rattled from boom cars, and I’ve been woken up at 6:30 in the morning by hot rods and motorcycles,” said Judy Ellis, a St. Petersburg resident. Excessive noise in St. Petersburg has increased Ellis’ blood pressure, caused heart pain, and greatly worsened her suffering from vibroacoustic disease. “The noisemakers have robbed me of the right to the peaceful enjoyment of home,” she notes.
The extreme noise from boom cars, hot rods, and motorcycles is contrary to the Florida state motor vehicle code, which states that “it is unlawful for any person operating or occupying a motor vehicle on a street or highway to operate or amplify the sound produced by a radio, tape player, or other mechanical soundmaking device or instrument from within the motor vehicle so the sound is” plainly audible at a distance of 100 feet or more from the motor vehicle. The law also forbids the modification of muffler systems.
St. Petersburg’s noise insanity extends to lawn care. “We don’t have a lot of leaves, but we have an avalanche of leaf blowers,” said Judy Ellis. “Leaf blowers, weed whackers, edgers, and mowers are blasting away constantly. One leaf in a driveway is often enough to generate 15 or 20 minutes of ‘Testosterfest’ with a gas-powered leaf blower.”
While St. Petersburg can rightfully brag about its beautiful waterfront, the soundscape is marred by the constant presence of power boats and jet skis. “It’s almost impossible to find a beach where jet skis don’t deafen you. People in St. Petersburg love loud, noisy, gas-belching machines,” said Ellis.
“St. Petersburg needs to take strong action against the growing scourge of noise pollution,” said Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director. “St. Petersburg’s web site talks about ‘quality of life,’ yet city officials promote noisy events. For example, noise from an annual Grand Prix is so ferocious that waterfront property owners are forced to vacate their homes for three days. And when citizens complained about excessive noise from leaf blowers, city government responded by reducing their allowable use by two hours on Sundays–a change which had no impact whatsoever.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Echo Manufacturing, Pioneer Electronics, and Circuit City. Noise Free America’s web site is http://www.noisefree.org.