Monday, January 29, 2007

An Utterly Uninhibited January

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) People hurry past the amplified noise at H and 8th St NE in this photo from Jan. 14, 2006. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)

It may be January. It may be cold. But the season does little to inhibit the electrified and battery-operated amplifiers at H and 8th St NE on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge group heaved their amplified ranting, starting Saturday afternoon and continuing until well after dark. The Rev. Dallas Williams intermittently spoke through his amplifier for about an hour on Sunday.

On a related note, local blog Frozen Tropics snags this timely story from the New York Times about what happens when a new neighborhood bar clashes with long-time residents over noise.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

D.C. Lacks Online Noise Resources for Residents

Where does a D.C. resident turn when confronted with a noise disturbance? The police? The Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs? It depends.

Before I left for a week of work travel, Richard Layman alerted me to this City of Sydney, Australia website, which provides residents with resources on addressing noise issues. (Kudos to the local Gallery Place (D.C.) Living blog, which alerted him to it.)

Perhaps a “best practices” website for D.C. residents will be a result of a Feb. 3 Metropolitan Police Dept. First District Crime Summit. Organizers say the event will “initiate a cooperative approach among agencies and citizens that will continue to deter crime and improve safety. Neighbors will work with key individuals to promote more efficient and effective use of the three approaches to policing for prevention: law enforcement, neighborhood partnerships, and system prevention.” Noise disturbances are among the agenda items.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wells Engages Ministers, Unions to Craft Noise Fix

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) District of Columbia Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells at the Jan. 11 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A meeting at Miner Elementary School. (Copyright © 2007. David Klavitter)

District of Columbia Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells is moving forward with a fix to the city’s noise law, which allows unlimited levels of amplified non-commercial speech between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

During Thursday’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A meeting at Miner Elementary School, the freshman councilmember told participants he has opened a dialogue with community ministers and labor union leaders about his intent to balance free speech with the right to quiet enjoyment of homes and businesses.

Wells noted H Street’s long history of street preaching, a point illustrated by the several amplified groups that employ amplifiers at the northeast D.C. intersection. They include the Rev. Dallas Williams, Evangelist Woodward, the Nation of Islam and the Israelite School of Universal School Practical Knowledge. Their messages are as varied as their names.

Wells is a member of the council’s Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs, which apparently has jurisdiction over the noise issue. He noted his involvement with the committee’s chair, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary M. Cheh in crafting a solution agreeable to residents, businesses, unions and religious organizations.

Those who live and work in and around H and 8th Street NE support free speech and welcome open dialogue in the free marketplace of ideas, but strongly reiterate our rights to peace and quiet. We want a livable and conversational community.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Amplifier Gives Group Unfair Advantage in Debate

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) A man waves his cane and, with unaided voice, yells apparent words from the Koran in an effort to counter arguments spewed by the fellows with the battery-powered amplifier behind him. The un-amplified man shouted for about 30 seconds before giving up and walking away, while the group with the amplifier advantage blared for four hours. The exchange happened Saturday, Dec. 30 at H and 8th Streets NE. (Copyright © 2006. David Klavitter)