Ulrich Promotes Noise Bill; Residents Decry Enforcement Issues

Noise complaints are a serious issue in the city, especially in tightly-packed residential areas where backyards are close together. According to city records, more than 100,000 complaints have been made to 311 about noise from a neighbor this year. City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) is proposing a bill that would strengthen the city’s noise code and enact harsher penalties and fines, especially for repeat offenders.

“Residents should not have to tolerate inconsiderate people who have little or no regard for their neighbors,” Ulrich said. “Even in the city that never sleeps, loud music at all hours of the night is simply unacceptable.”

The current city code is only equipped to handle commercial noise complaints. The Department of Environmental Protection and NYPD can issue fines for excessive noise, but they must first determine ambient noise levels—a baseline level of how loud the area is on an average night.

Ulrich’s bill would create a standard to address residential complaints by increasing fines and giving the NYPD broader powers to confiscate sound equipment.

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, knows how bad the problem has become. He spent the past weekend helping residents call 311 because of a loud party and is fed up with inconsiderate people abusing their rights.

“It was nice weather. People are going to go out to the backyard and party—and that’s their right,” Wendell said. “But some of them take that right and overstep their boundaries.”

As president of the block association, Wendell said he’s received numerous e-mails—many sent in the early hours of the morning—complaining about loud neighbors.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association in Middle Village, agreed noise complaints were a serious quality of life issue. However, he said the biggest issue was that the police simply did not have the manpower to handle the complaints.

“We shouldn’t have to wait eight hours for a response,” Holden said. With the current staffing levels of the NYPD, all quality of life issues such as noise complaints and illegal truck traffic continue to be neglected, he said.

Holden suggested that NYPD traffic enforcement should be allowed to enforce minor quality of life issues. This would allow officers from the precinct to respond to emergencies while not neglecting the community’s more minor problems.

Wendell had a similar idea: “They should hand this over to the Department of Sanitation and treat it as noise pollution.” A special crew that drove around the borough during the weekends and issued fines would make more than enough money to offset its costs, Wendell said.

“I support anything our elected officials can do to combat this problem, but I have my doubts. Fines are not the issue. The issue is manpower,” Wendell said.

There will be a City Council hearing on Monday, June 27 at 1 p.m. at 250 Broadway, 16th Floor, about Ulrich’s proposed bill. Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection, NYPD and 311 will be on hand to give testimony. Ulrich encourages residents and community leaders to join him and submit testimony at the hearing. Residents unable to attend are invited to submit testimony to Ulrich’s office prior to the hearing.

by Eric Yun


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