Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Amplified Double Header Returns to Neighborhood

After back-to-back Saturday absences, the weekly four-hour amplified diatribe returned Nov. 25 to the southeast corner of H and 8th Streets NE, according to neighbors, who could hear the amplification inside homes. The noisemakers provided no indication for their unusual two-weekend break.

Residents also confirmed that the Rev. Dallas Williams also peppered the intersection with amplified preaching for about an hour on Sunday.

Residents and businesses have no beef with preachers or their preaching--we only wish they’d quit disturbing others from pursuing quiet meditation.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Two Quiet Weekends, One Content Community

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) In a happy photo to accompany two amplifier-free weekends, exuberant kids flash neighborhood signs while waiting for the bus at H and 8th Streets NE on Saturday, Oct. 14. They were returning from a "peace-go" dance held at the Market Lounge in Northeast Washington. Before attending the event, each teen was required to attend non-violence training. The group’s commotion at the bus stop attracted two MPD cruisers and a bike cop, but the police soon left after encountering the festive, safe bunch. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

Friends and neighbors celebrate two consecutive Saturdays in November without an amplifier at H and 8th Streets NE. Just the simple sounds of city life. People linger outside and chat with their neighbors. Smiles. Buses come and go. A bird chirps and flits away. Laughter. Friends tease each other about the Redskins. A calm envelops everyone.

The amplifier was absent, along with the group that routinely brought it. No indication exists about why the amplified group did not assemble, but neighbors will not get their hopes up.

Still, residents and businesses relished the quiet gift—one not to be taken for granted.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Kimber Overcomes Deficit to Claim ANC 6C Seat

Every vote counts and absentee ballots really do matter.

It appears Alan Kimber turned a three vote deficit into a five vote surplus to unseat incumbent Anthony Rivera for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) in 6C.

According to the "Nov. 7, 2006 Pre-Certified General Election Results: Summary-Ward-Precinct Reports," released today by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, Kimber had 217 votes to Rivera's 213.

ANC FOR SMD 6C05 (2) 2/2 100.00%
Under Votes: 118
Over Votes:
ALAN KIMBER 217 49.66%
Write In, if any 7 1.60%
Total ... 437 100.00%

Monday, November 13, 2006

Georgetown Students’ Form Church; Exempted from D.C. Noise Regs

D.C. regulations provide much deference to church groups. In fact, it exempts them from municipal noise regulations: "Title 20: 2704.10 Church bells or music connected with worship or official church ceremonies shall be exempt."

One group of Georgetown students recently took advantage of the loophole and legally formed a “church,” which neighbors claim only serves to skirt city occupancy and other laws. So loud music, shouting and amplified karaoke originating from this house—sorry, I meant “church”—is completely legal at any level at any hour. Check out the story in the Washington Post.

Just as it’s impossible to define speech content, it’s impossible to define a religion. Let’s make this easy for everybody: The city should provide NO special exemptions for church groups.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Montgomery County Bans Loud Leaf Blowers

A story in today’s Washington Post (“A Growing Clamor Over Leaf Blowers: Autumn's Soundtrack Grates On Neighborhood Nerves”) explores the urban debate about leaf blowers’ noisy impact on neighborhoods. More city dwellers use the hot-selling tool, which contributes to community noise problems. Meanwhile, the manufacturers are striving to make the machines quieter.

Some excerpts:

Montgomery County bans the sale and use of leaf blowers generating more than 70 decibels, but most area jurisdictions seek to regulate them through general noise ordinances that restrict hours of use. Elsewhere, however, they are banned outright.

It is interesting that a 70 decibel leaf blower is banned in one place while 100+ decibel amplified speech is permitted for hours and hours in the District of Columbia.

"More people are working from home, and there just isn't an awareness of how badly detrimental noise can be as a factor in one's life..."

Read the complete story here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wells Dominates Ward 6, Rivera Wins by Three

Candidates aiding in the quest for quiet (unofficial results from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics:

Barring a recount, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC6C 05) Commissioner Anthony Rivera won reelection by three votes. He tallied 205 votes to challenger Alan Kimber’s 202.

ANC 6A Commissioners Joe Fengler and Raphael Marshall also will return to their single member districts, which abut H and 8th Streets NE.

Tommy Wells handily won the Ward 6 Council seat with 62% of the vote. Independent Will Cobb took 27% and Republican Tony Williams took 11%.

Councilmember Jim Graham ran opposed, but it is unclear if he will retain chair of the Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee.

At-large Councilmembers Phil Mendelson and David Cantania also will return to the council chambers.

Oh, in case you had not heard--Adrian Fenty won the D.C. mayoral race by a landslide.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ward Six Candidate Wells Again Backs Noise Fix

On Washington Post Radio Thursday, Voice of the Hill editor Patti Shea asked Ward 6 council Democratic candidate Tommy Wells if he would fix the city noise loophole despite opposition from big union interests. Wells "emphatically said yes."

This is the second time on Washington Post radio Wells has committed to fixing D.C.’s broken noise law—the first was during a Democratic debate before the September primary.

Based on his previous actions for H Street community residents and businesses, I believe Wells is a man of his word. Plus his slogan is “For a livable and walkable community.” No noise and no car…that’s me.

I plan to vote for Wells Tuesday.

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.

Jeremiah, Chapter 23

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) The debate at H and 8th Streets NE is not about love or loathing. Loudness levels are the issue. Especially true when people are forced to listen because of one group’s abusive use of an amplifier. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)