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.

3 Comments:

Blogger Klav said...

Download the D.C. Muncipal Regulations on Noise Control. The pdf document is from the D.C. Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs website:
http://www.dcra.dc.gov/dcra/lib/dcra/noiseregs.pdf

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a possibly silly question for you. I have been looking everywhere but I cannot for the life of me find the answer. I live in an apartment where the apartments have wooden floors. The people above me have no carpeting and walk all the time in their shoes, and it feels like someone is walking on my head. Is there any DC law regarding mandatory carpeting or flooring for wood floor apartments?

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am living in the President Condo located at 2141 I ST NW, next to the building of GW Medical Faculty Associates. A few weeks ago, a huge machine was placed at one side of the building without any notice. The machine has been keeping make noise 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is unbearable especially in the midnight. You can hear the noise at 2:30am through this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_lZ2s6a0ZA

I have talked with somebody from their engineer department and was told that they would try to do something but the machine would not be removed until April.

What should I do? File a complaint to D.C. Muncipal Regulations Office? How long will it take to process?

p.s.Here is the contact number of GW Medical Faculty Associates

202.741.3000
The GW Medical Faculty Associates
2150 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037

11:33 PM  

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