Sunday, June 11, 2006

Just Like H Street NE, Noise Annoys in Georgetown

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) H and 8th Street NE neighbors Marc and Jane use an amplifier to explain to residents, passersby and remaining restaurant patrons in Georgetown Sunday afternoon that they must contact the city council to quiet the extremely loud amplified speech in their community. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Citywide Amplified Free Speech Day obviously was annoying, irritating and stressful for the vibrant community in and around the Wisconsin and N Street NW intersection of Georgetown Sunday.

Neighbors from across town—who live in and around the 700 block of 8th Street NE—setup an amplifier and blasted the intersection from 3-5 p.m. to demonstrate the absurdity of D.C.'s broken noise law. It allows unlimited, amplified, non-commercial speech from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in any D.C. residential community.

No permits are needed and there are no limits on loudness. The message was "we are making noise to fix the noise. If you want quiet, contact the city council."

Sunday's experience was just two hours during one day for the residents and businesses of Georgetown. For the residents and businesses of H and 8th, it's more than four hours of amplified noise each and every Saturday afternoon.

Using a decibel meter, we measured the noise blaring from our amplifier to be at 112 decibels—about the loudness of a rock concert or table saw. Two television stations were on the scene to cover the Georgetown noisefest. In four years, they've never ventured to examine the H Street NE noise problem.

The H and 8th Street group distributed fliers and explained the reason for the noise intrusion. In most conversations with people in Georgetown Sunday, a person's anger and frustration usually subsided after they understood the issue of unlimited noise, and saw the importance of contacting the city council. But not everyone. Especially upset were the nearby restaurants with outdoor seating. One disgruntled patron threw a tomato slice our way.

While the Georgetown eateries may have been affected for two hours, restaurants in and around H and 8th Streets NE may never even have a chance to open amongst the unabated racket.

It's absurd, disturbing and a breach of the peace. It's time for the D.C. City Council to fix the broken noise law now to balance free speech with the right to peace and quiet.

Please urge the D.C. city council to balance free speech with the right to peace and quiet and to take action to fix the D.C. noise law.

D.C. Council Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Chair Jim Graham (ph: 202-724-8181; email:

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans (ph: 202-724-8058; email:

Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose (ph: 202-724-8072; email:
(CLICK TO ENLARGE) A Georgetown resident (right) learns why an amplifier is blaring yards from her home and that the city council must protect citizens from unreasonable actions of rude people. An amplifier broadcasts one group's non-commercial speech at homes and businesses around H and 8th Street NE every Saturday. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Tomato slice ...

You should consider filing charges against that dude who threw the vegetable ... that's assault by tomato!

Congratulations, however, for taking action; it's what America is all about!

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America is also all about free speech and being able to stand on any corner you want and say whatever you want at whatever noise levels you want, but that hasn't stopped this blogs creator from an excesive amount of effort to keep this from happening in his neighborhood... go figure..

1:00 PM  
Blogger Klav said...


America is not about right to free speech going to the person who can afford the biggest amplifier.

As far as efforts at H and 8th NE, the commenter obviously neglected to read the more than 110 posts on Quest for Quiet, which date back more than 18 months.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, would you want an amplifier on YOUR corner every Sat? Do you think the right to ruin YOUR peace and quiet every day, if someone chose to, is protected under the constitution? Of course not!

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America is also all about free speech and being able to stand on any corner you want and say whatever you want at whatever noise levels you want

I think this may be one of the stupidest things I've ever read. No offense.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


obviously it is protected under the constitution or they wouldn't be there every week.


Amplifier envy? Is that what this is all about?

ha! ha!

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anon, why don't you give your address so folks can go express free speech on your corner?

9:05 AM  

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