Monday, November 21, 2005

It’s About Noise, but What About Space?

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Here’s another photograph made on Nov. 19. It’s looking southwest from H Street toward 8th Street NE. It shows the backside of the noisemakers' stage. (Copyright © 2005: David Klavitter)

The noisemakers don’t always use a stage, sometimes opting to simply stand on the sidwalk. The Nov. 19 featured boards on crates and several chairs. While the group does not need a permit to assemble or make speeches, my understanding from our Aug. 29 community meeting is they can’t assemble this stage on a public space without a permit.

They noisemakers did not use the amplifier, although it was present at the foot of the stage.

Their speech projects toward our neighborhood’s houses, which are visible beyond the noisemakers.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Amplifier Present, but Not Used

I joined the noisemakers on the sidewalk at 8th and Streets NE today. They didn't use the amplifier, but it was present in front of the stage they assembled on the sidewalk. The air was chilly today, the temperature was in the upper 40s. I did take pictures! Based on his comments to me, the fellow pictured left wasn't thrilled I was making photographs. (Click for larger view of photo. Copyright © 2005: David Klavitter)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hill Newspaper Covers Noise Issue at 8th and H

The Nov. 10 edition of The Voice of the Hill newspaper features a front page story about the ongoing noise issue at 8th and H Streets NE in Washington, D.C.

Reporter Gary Emerling provides a balanced view. He interviews a representive of a church group familiar--but unrelated--to the noisemakers. ANC6A Commissioner Joe Fengler, D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, MPD Inspector Andy Solberg also are interviewed.

I know the article includes a photo of the noisemakers on the corner, but I'm not aware if VOH attempted to actually interview them.

To read the story, download the pdf edition here:

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

D.C. City Council Convenes Hearing on Noise Ordinance

Today I testified on behalf of the residents living in the 700 block of 8th St NE in Washington, D.C., before a D.C. city council committee. Specifically, it was Councilmember Jim Graham's Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The title of the hearing was “Public oversight hearing on noise enforcement in commercial and residential areas.” View the complete hearing online. Here's what I told the committee:

Chairman Graham and members of the committee, on behalf of the residents living on and near the 700 block of 8th Street NE, I appreciate this opportunity to express our experience about the District of Columbia noise ordinance and its enforcement. My written testimony includes key correspondence related to this matter.

My name is David Klavitter, and I am a resident of the 700 block of 8th Street NE. For nearly two years, my neighbors and I have endured excessive noise generated by an assembled group’s amplified loudspeaker. According to Skip Coburn of Councilwoman Ambrose’s office, this is an issue about which the residents have been complaining for “years.”

All we have requested is that the group simply cease using its amplifier in order to comply with the D.C. noise ordinance. We view this as a NOISE ISSUE—NOT an issue of speech CONTENT or a group’s right to ASSEMBLE.

The noise originates most Saturday afternoons 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.

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.

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.

Our quality of life is diminished because we cannot find solitude.

Since at least October of 2004, my neighbors and I have attempted to remedy the issue, beginning with the noisemakers themselves. At our request, ANC Commissioner Anthony Rivera (6C) also asked the noisemakers to stop using the amplifier, but he too was rebuffed.

In addition to Commissioner Rivera, Commissioners Michael Sherman (6C) and Joe Fengler (6A) have been supportive of the neighborhood’s efforts in resolving the noise problem.

The neighborhood’s next steps included dialing 311 to report excessive noise. An exchange of emails to myriad of city agencies and elected officials has resulted in much activity and high expectations. While I continue to feel that a resolution is at hand, the problem remains.

The noise is one problem. Working with the city to resolve it is another. Either the city has no clear process for addressing noise violations or it was never communicated to the residents. On August 29, the neighborhood and the Metropolitan Police Department commenced a meeting where a plan was developed and implemented.

Participants included residents, MPD, ANC Commissioners, DCRA, DDOT, Office of Neighborhood Services, and Office of the Attorney General. Representatives of the noisemaking group were invited to the meeting, but they did not attend. A summary of the Aug. 29 meeting and action steps are included in my written testimony.

For the record, my neighbors and I commend the dedication and efforts by MPD Inspector Andy Solberg and DCRA Noise Inspector Mandoza Lowery.

Inspector Lowery said his paperwork on this case goes back nearly three years. The group has been cited by DCRA three times at 8th and H Streets during the past four months--these fines have totaled more than $2,000. What is the next step?

To reiterate, the residents have requested all along that the fellows simply cease using the amplifier in order to comply with the D.C. noise ordinance. It should be emphasized that my neighbors and I see this as a NOISE ISSUE—NOT an issue of speech CONTENT or a group’s right to ASSEMBLE.

After all this time and pursuit of numerous solutions, it’s clear this group is not interested in cooperating with anyone. Sadly, it’s obvious the noisemakers want this to be resolved by enforcement action.

The residents believe we, along with various District departments, have gone above and beyond what’s necessary to ensure the noisemakers’ rights are protected under the law. Now it’s time to assert our rights under the law.

Your consideration to this important issue is appreciated. I welcome your questions.