Monday, July 18, 2016

Escalating Noise

Lately, from what I've heard on and from talking to other residents the past few weeks, noise is getting out of hand all over town. Two years ago, I posted an entry to the Diary about Norristown's noise ordinance. You can read it at this link. We not only need a refresher course on the noise ordinance, we need to make sure it's being enforced.

Here's my own experience since the summer has begun: A neighbor with a boom box on his back porch, who cranked it up every day between 4 and 7 pm, so loud that, as one neighbor put it, it made her windows rattle--and her house is across and up the street, 150 feet away. A neighbor who has wired the horn of one of his cars to sound like a train bearing down on you--who sometimes gets the urge to blare this horn late at night (this past Saturday, 3 am). A neighbor who revs engines sometimes all day long and into the night. A neighbor who rides around the block for hours on a motorcycle, only pausing to adjust it so it'll be louder next time (last Friday night at midnight). Dogs barking shrilly sometimes all night long. Ice cream trucks parking and playing their music after 8 pm (which is against the transient merchant law).

On July 4th, we had a boom box war between 2 neighbors. I'm not talking simply competing tunes. I'm talking music so loud you feel like you can't breathe.

Noise this loud is a public health hazard. Any noise so loud that you can physically feel the vibration of it (about 85 decibels) does damage your hearing over the long term. Your basic gas powered lawn mower is 90 decibels. A rock concert is usually around 100. If the noise is so loud it hurts, it's topped 120 decibels and will definitely cause damage to your hearing. The noise in my neighborhood isn't just annoying, it's dangerous.

I've politely asked my neighbors to hold the noise down which only worked once. I've knocked on doors late at night to ask that they bring their loud dog inside. No one answers.

The police have been called by multiple neighbors several times over the last 2 months, but I don't think any citations have been issued as of yet. The cops come out, give a warning and drive away. Fifteen minutes later, the neighborhood is noisy again.

From what I've learned by talking to other residents, this sort of thing is happening all over town. The police don't seem to be issuing noise citations anywhere. According to, the NPD reported only 7 instances of Disturbing the Peace over the last month, and all were marked "Disorderly Conduct" (which I think is different from a noise complaint). Okay, I can see giving someone a warning or even two for excessive noise, but by the second or third occurrence, the violator needs to start paying fines.

Tempers are starting to fray in my neighborhood, and I'm guessing that's true elsewhere. At some point, someone's bound to take matters into their own hands. If the police can prevent a more serious crime by issuing noise citations in the first place, why aren't they doing it?

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