Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Requesting Guidance on a Petition

After another Saturday of noise, I decide to broaden my approach. I'm willing to do the work, but need some guidance from some city official. Perhaps the city will respond to a petition? Cobbling together a list of contacts from the MPD, as well as three advisory neighborhood commissioners, and representatives from Councilmember Sharon Ambrose's office, I attempt to get everyone on one page. I distribute this mass email:


DATE: April 26, 2005

TO:
Inspector Andrew Solberg (MPD)
andrew.solberg@dc.gov

Capt. Angel Medina (MPD
angel.medina@dc.gov

FROM:

David Klavitter
Resident of 714 8th St NE


CC:

ANC 6C Commissioner Anthony Rivera
(represents west side of 8th St. NE)
ARivera268@aol.com

ANC 6A02 Commissioner Joseph Fengler
(represents east side of 8th St. NE)
202-423-8868
fengler6a02@yahoo.com

Commander Thomas McGuire (MPD)
tmcguire@MPDC.ORG

Tawanna Shuford, Director of Constituent Services
Office of Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6
tshuford@dccouncil.us

Skip Coburn, Research Specialist
Office of Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6
scoburn@dccouncil.us

Old City Capitol Hill Neighborhood Association
linexchang@aol.com

Stanton Park Neighborhood Association
spna@stantonpark.org

SUBJECT: Guidance on Northeast Neighborhood Action/Petition Against Noise

Inspector Solberg:

Thanks for taking the time to address the noise problem experienced by residents who live in the 600 and 700 blocks of 8th St NE. The purpose of this note is to determine how the community can respond to a quality of life issue related to noise. It should be emphasized that I see this as a NOISE ISSUE—NOT an issue of speech CONTENT or a group’s right to ASSEMBLE.

SOURCE OF PROBLEM:
The noise originates each and every Saturday afternoon for several hours from a group that assembles on the southeast corner of the intersection of 8th and H Streets NE. The people use a powered, amplification speaker, which is pointed south onto 8th Street. This noise projects and echoes down the street, and can be heard both outside and inside our houses.

When I asked members of the group to turn down the amplifier, I was rudely rebuffed, to say the least. In fact, I tried to keep an open mind about what they were speaking and asked for one of the fliers they were distributing. I was denied and told the fliers were “not for me.”

Since October of 2004, my neighbors and I have resorted to calling 311 after trying to discuss the noise issue with the fellows directly. My own log shows I personally have made 22 calls. The police respond, but the noise has not gone away.

My ANC commissioner, Anthony Rivera, in the past month also asked the fellows to turn down the volume, but he, too, encountered resistance. Commissioner Rivera agrees that this noise is too loud.

THE PROBLEM’S DETRIMENT TO COMMUNITY:
We believe residents should not be required to hear this noise in our homes for hours and hours every Saturday. We can hear it in our houses and we certainly cannot open our windows. Our quality of life is diminished because we cannot find solitude. These groups’ noise is infringing upon the neighborhood residents’ pursuit of happiness—peace and quiet solitude in one’s home.

The speakers’ drone is a constant annoyance and irritant. After several hours during a Saturday afternoon, the noise actually adds to one’s stress level. It’s difficult to conduct a conversation, read a book, or even take a nap! Gardening outside in the yard is supposed to be relaxing—not a contest of willpower to endure hours of non-stop verbal ranting.

Residents are driven indoors. Neighborhood communication and community building is hindered. For many of us, work and church commitments leave Saturday as the only day to be home outside getting to know and understand each other.

Visitors to our home wonder why we moved here. The noise turns away potential residents and others have difficulty renting apartment units. Many residents avoid shopping at the Rite-Aid and other stores in and around the H Street Connection because they are harassed and intimidated by the speakers.

RESPONSE:
Our community is developing a petition to help resolve this quality of life problem, but first we need some additional guidance. Would a petition help? If so, how must we properly word it so it will have teeth? What else can the community do? Please anyone feel free to answer these questions or please point our community in the right direction:

1. Is this a law enforcement issue, a permit issue, or a statutory issue?

2. Do these groups have a right to use the amplifier? Do they have a permit to use the amplifier? Is there any law or regulation that prohibits the use of an amplifier?

3. If the group does have a permit, which District agency issues it? DCRA? MPD?

4. How can the group continually be granted a permit—for hours and hours each and every Saturday afternoon—when the community is complaining about the noise?

5. To whom should we present the petition signatures?

DESIRED OUTCOME:
To improve the quality of life for those that live in the neighborhood and to foster community-building in the H Street corridor, in my view, the simplest way to resolve this is for the groups to NOT use amplification devices—either by the groups’ own cooperation or by enforcement of regulations.

I look forward to learning more about how the residents can help resolve this quality of life issue. Thanks again for your efforts.

Sincerely,

David Klavitter

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