Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays!

An image made last year at corner of 12th and G Streets NW in Washington, D.C. The photograph was included in this post from Dec. 23, 2005. (Copyright © 2005. David Klavitter)

Friday, December 22, 2006

WTOP Radio Listeners Have Choice, Control

WTOP Radio yesterday morning aired its story on one group’s abuse of the District of Columbia’s broken noise law. It allows unlimited decibels of non-commercial speech to amplified anywhere in the city from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The story--complete with photos, audio and listener comments--is posted on the station’s website. You can listen online.

Reporter Mark Segraves clearly illustrates the noise problem’s impact. However, he focuses a bit much on the content and one group's antics--the issue is about noise alone, as measured with the objectivity of a decibel meter. Remember, other groups also setup amplifiers during the weekend, like the Rev. Dallas Williams on Sundays and Evangelist Woodward on periodic Saturdays.

The irony of yesterday morning’s 7 o’clock hour broadcast was that the announcer preceded Segrave’s story by cautioning listeners with children to "turn-down" the volume of their radios, due to potentially offensive or graphic language.

The option to "turn down the volume" currently is not available to the residents and businesses at H & 8th Streets NE.

Before you listen to the two audio files, remember that you have choice and control: You can choose to click to WTOP. You can choose to click on the audio play button. You have control to make the volume louder or quieter. You can choose to turn it off.

In matters of unreasonable amplified noise, the D.C. law must return choice to its citizens. Make your choice to listen and read the full story here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fenty Says He Would Sign and Enforce Noise Fix

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mayor-Elect Adrian Fenty during Thursday’s ANC6A meeting. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Washington, D.C. Mayor-Elect Adrian Fenty said he "absolutely" would sign a bill to fix the loophole in the city’s noise statute, which allows unlimited levels of amplified speech in the city residential areas. And, he emphasized, “not only would I sign it, but I would ensure the law was enforced.”

Fenty made his pledge Thursday evening during an open forum at the monthly Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A meeting at Miner Elementary School. His answer was in response to questions related to H Street NE issues, specifically the weekly amplified noise at the southeast corner of H and 8th Streets NE.

The incoming mayor told ANC 6A Chairman Joe Fengler he was well aware of the situation. Fengler’s single member district includes the corner in question.

“I’d knock on doors [during the campaign] and hear about it from residents living on both sides of H Street,” Fenty told the assembled community. “What’s happening on that corner is not acceptable.”

This is good news for the residents and businesses in and around the H Street intersection, which suffer every weekend from more than four hours of amplified speech. We support free speech, religion and assembly, but underscore our right to peace and quiet in our own homes and businesses.

Alan Kimber (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

A representative from the office of incoming Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells--who has publicly pledged to fix the noise law--attended the meeting. ANC6C Commissioner-Elect Alan Kimber and H Street Main Street Chairman Anwar Saleem also asked Fenty to support H Street public safety and development issues.

Anwar Saleem (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fenty, Noise Issue On Thursday’s ANC Agenda

Mayor-Elect Adrian Fenty during Thursday’s (Dec. 14) Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A meeting will discuss a number of issues related to H Street NE—including endless hours of amplified noise. D.C.'s broken noise law allows unlimited, amplified, non-commercial speech from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in any D.C. residential community. H and 8th Street NE is pummeled by four hours of amplified speech every Saturday.

Other issues the ANC wants to discuss with Fenty: Support for singles sales of liquor moratorium; support to purchase of street cars; public safety; and difficulties with the Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Public Meetings are held the second Thursday of each month. 7:00 P.M. Miner Elementary School, 601 15th St NE. Vist the ANC6A website for the complete agenda.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Decibel Absurdity

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) D.C. law allows non-commercial speech to be amplified at unlimited decibels anywhere in the city between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The issue at H and 8th Streets NE is about amplifiers, some of which blare at more than 100 decibels for four hours every Saturday. To what does that compare? A power lawnmower registers at 90 decibels, a rock concert between 105-110. Welcome to the neighborhood. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Dining and Donations

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Not much has changed since this photo made on Jan. 7, 2006. Looking south on Eighth Street NE, homes continue to be blasted by one group’s amplifier for more than four hours nearly every Saturday. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Walking home from the bus Saturday afternoon, I encountered several members of the Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK) conversing in a huddle several yards and facing away from the other fellows using the obnoxious amplifier—obviously distance was necessary to hear each other over the loud decibels. I stopped and said hello to the guys who call themselves Mahayaman (whom I’ve dubbed “The Hurler” in previous posts), Mayach, and Yahanah.

Well away from the amplifier’s direct aim, we could actually talk. Mahayaman asked me where I’d been lately. I told him I had been around, but pointed out that his group was absent from the corner two consecutive Saturdays.

“Watching football with the guys?” I asked. He shrugged and said they simply had other places to teach.

He then rattled off a series of questions about my origins, my work, and me. I told him I was from Iowa, worked on behalf of credit unions, was married and spent most every Saturday at class. He asked about my mom. (Yeah, right…like I’m going provide any information about my mom to some guy who likes to hurl insults with an amplifier.)

“Your wife should join you when you come out and photograph us,” Mahayaman said.

“She doesn’t need to come out here because she can hear your amplifier quite clearly at home,” I answered.

bwMahayaman2x2 Mayach2x2 copy bwYahanah2x2 bwDevil2x2
I asked Mahayaman similar questions, but he wasn’t forthcoming, beyond telling me his group was “nomadic.” I asked about their colorful garments and the initials “ISUPK” riveted into their jackets. Were they ordered from an official ISUPK catalog? Mahayman said the men customized their own fashions.

“Which house is yours?” he asked and then proclaimed we should learn to trust each other and said I should invite them to my home. “Your wife could cook us a meal,” he said.

“A terrible idea,” I replied, “she doesn’t cook.” I suggested we meet for lunch or dinner at Birdland, a restaurant on H Street. “We can talk about how to resolve this noise issue,” I said.

Before they could respond, a man interrupted us and presented to Mahayaman an envelope. I presumed it was money and asked how donations were used.

They explained it was for travel, ISUPK garments, the amplifier, and a “legal defense fund,” they smirked, apparently referring to the community’s less than enthusiastic support for the group.

“You’re welcome and can say whatever you like,” I said, and reiterated that the neighborhood’s only beef was with the noise. Somehow, that’s a reality they choose not to believe.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Church Bells: Music or Annoyance?

A story in today’s Washington Post says a church must comply with Fairfax County’s noise ordinance or not toll at all.

An excerpt:
The county discovered that the bells registered at an average of 75 decibels (roughly equivalent to a vacuum cleaner at close range), which is considerably above the 55-decibel limit in residential areas.

The church reduced the power flowing to the three bells, which brought the reading down to 60 decibels, softer (about the sound of an air conditioner at 50 feet) but still above the limit.

If [the church] were elsewhere, it would be able to ring away. Prince William and Arlington counties allow a daytime maximum of 60 decibels. Montgomery County permits 65 decibels during the day.

One group for more than four hours nearly every Saturday blasts the H and 8th Street NE community with speech which ranges between 85 and 105 decibels. A loophole in the District of Columbia noise statue allows unreasonable people to commit such abuse.

The District of Columbia also gives churches wide latitude on a range of issues--from parking to noise. Let’s encourage our elected officials to apply noise regulations evenly without exceptions. Ignore origin or content and simply focus on the objectivity of a decibel meter.

How would you react to a church playing outside music, bells or loudspeakers at all hours of the day?