Thursday, April 06, 2006

Graham Commits to Fixing Busted Noise Law

D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham said he is preparing legislation to fix the city’s broken noise law, which permits unabated amplified speech anywhere in the city from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In response to a recent letter from me, Graham writes:
“I am considering introducing legislation that would correct this situation, and have asked my staff to draft it. I appreciate your patience.”
I’m not a big fan of the word “considering,” but otherwise it’s a positive step for the community in and around the 700 block of 8th Street NE.

Several of my neighbors who recently wrote letters to the Ward 1 councilmember received similar responses.

The noise issue at H and 8th Streets NE is happening in Ward 6—the seat currently occupied by outgoing Councilmember Sharon Ambrose. Graham’s involvement is critical because he chairs the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which has jurisdiction over the noise issue. The related legislation, I believe, must originate in his committee.

I testified about amplified noise issue before Graham and his committee on Nov. 2, 2005. In his letter, Graham indicated no timetable for introducing language to repair the law.

For those keeping score, here’s a rundown:
Aug. 29, 2005: Residents, MPD, Office of Attorney General, ANC commissioners, DCRA and the Dept. of Transportation meet to discuss a solution to the noise issue. Noisemakers from the Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK) are invited, but do not attend.

The ISUPK’s amplified sound is measured with a decibel meter on three occasions in 2005 (June 18, Aug. 27, and Sept. 10) by D.C. DCRA Noise Inspector Mandoza Lowery. The group was found to be in violation of the D.C. noise ordinance each time and was cited and fined $1,000.

December 7, 2005: A letter from Robert Spagnoletti of the D.C. Office of Attorney General says a 2004 amendment to the D.C. statute apparently renders enforcement of amplified speech regulation powerless.

Jan. 11, 2006: Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C votes unanimously in urging the D.C. City Council to fix the noise statute.

A Jan. 12, 2006 editorial in the Voice of the Hill newspaper calls on the D.C. City Council to fix the law.

Feb. 9, 2006: During Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A meeting, Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose says she would pursue legislative language to fix a loophole in a city statute that permits amplified non-commercial speech from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in or around R4 zones.

March 9, 2006: During its monthly meeting, ANC6A unanimously votes to formally request that the District of Columbia City Council consider amending the “Georgetown Project and Noise Control Amendment Act of 2004” in order to modify an exception currently contained in the noise ordinance that permits amplified free speech on the city’s public streets.
A VERY LOUD word of thanks for everyone's interest and support of our neighborhood's issue.

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