Thursday, November 02, 2006

Not a Happy Anniversary

It was one year ago today that Councilmember Jim Graham’s Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs conducted a hearing on provisions and enforcement of the city’s noise ordinance. I testified about the amplified speech issue at H and 8th Streets NE.

The hearing happened one month before the D.C. Office of Attorney General determined that the noise statute was amended in 2004—effectively neutering regulations governing the unlimited and abusive use of amplifiers in the city. Now between 7 a.m and 9 p.m. anywhere in the city, a person with any size amplifier can stand on any commercial or residential street corner and turn in up as loud as they want for as long as they want. The speech content only must be non-commercial in nature.

And so one unreasonable and vindictive group abuses the loophole. It blasts a community for more than four hours every Saturday, diminishing the quality of life for residents and businesses alike.

Graham and Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose both have pledged to fix the statute to balance free speech rights with the rights to peace and quiet. However, neither has introduced language that would simply revert the law back to its original form in 2004.

As Election Day nears, the neighbors have nearly given up on both “public servants.” We are unsure what either of them stands for. Instead, we look forward to working with folks that will work to craft a reasonable and balanced solution for all.


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