Friday, February 03, 2006

Second ANC Calls for Fix to D.C. Noise Law

This letter was mailed today on letterhead stationery and signed by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC6C) Chairman Mark Dixon. This letter joins a similar one transmitted on Dec. 15 by ANC6A Chairman Joe Fengler.

Here’s the text:

February 1, 2006

Council Member Sharon Ambrose
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Suite 102
Washington, D.C. 20004

Council Member Jim Graham, Chair
Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Suite 105
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Council Member Ambrose and Chairman Graham:

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C, at its January 11, 2006, duly noticed, monthly meeting, with a quorum of commissioners present, voted unanimously 8:0 to support amending the “Georgetown Project and Noise Control Amendment Act of 2004" in order to modify an exception currently contained in the noise ordnance that permits amplified free speech on D.C. public streets. We note that Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A voted similarly at its December 2005 meeting. (See attached.)

Currently, members of the Israelite Church of God and Jesus Christ, Inc. gather on Saturdays at the corner of Eighth and H Streets N.E. to exercise their right of free speech. This group often uses an amplifier to deliver their religious message. The use of the amplifier projects the sound to the surrounding streets in all directions, disturbing the peace, order, and quiet of the neighborhood. This directly affects Single Member Districts 6C05 and 6C06, represented by ANC 6C Commissioners Rivera and Sherman, respectively.

Neighbors have no objection to the group or their religious speech. The problem is the use of the powered amplifier. Over the past ten months, the community has worked with ANC 6A and 6C, Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and the Office of the Attorney General in attempts to resolve the issue of amplified noise.

ANC 6A recommends an amendment to the “Georgetown Project and Noise Control Amendment Act of 2004" to prohibit use of amplifiers in close proximity to residences. ANC 6C supports this proposed amendment. Residences in the District of Columbia deserve peace and quiet from unwanted street noise. A carefully considered amendment to this Act is sorely needed to protect the neighbors in their private space from publicly amplified sound.

Finally, we ask the City Council and attorney general to examine the 1949 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kovacs v. Cooper, which found that a municipal ban on the use of any sound system emitting “loud and raucous” noises did NOT violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In closing, we respectfully submit that the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, whose members are elected by the residents of the District of Columbia to represent their concerns, offer this advice in accordance with the D.C. Charter that states “great eight” be given to ANC recommendations to City agencies. Thank you for your serious consideration to this request.


Mark Dixon
Chairman, ANC 6C

Attachment: Letter from ANC 6A

Council Member Kwame Brown
Council Member David Catania
Council Member Adrian Fenty
Mr. David M. Rubenstein, Deputy Attorney General,
Office of Attorney General
Mr. David Klavitter


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