Thoughts

Once again, on the problem of noise

I’ve written repeatedly about noise issues in distant and recent past. Noise is something that affects me deeply and not in pleasant ways, so it’s an issue that’s always boiling beneath the surface, so to speak. Particularly during the quarantine, I was able to enjoy such quiet times, that I found the contrast between that period and these once-again too-busy times extremely jarring. I’m writing about it this time because I may have come up with a better way to word the noise laws, for those that are interested. There are two parts to it, as detailed below.

First, here are three posts I’d like to point out:

I was prompted to think about this by a recent incident, where the noise violator took advantage of a loophole in the Romanian laws against noise violations. It’s an optional loophole that the police can choose to apply in cases where the violator has relations on the police force or the local government, namely to require the use of a special device that measures the decibel level of the noise, which in Romania involves scheduling a visit from a special police team from another city, instead of relying on the complaints of a person or persons, or the observations made by the police officers who’ve responded to the call. In short, if you’re bribing someone at the mayor’s office or on the police force, you can get away with some serious noise violations. I hope you can also see how not solving a noise violation on the spot and requiring a scheduled site visit from a police team with special equipment is clearly a loophole that’s meant to be misused. In this particular recent case, I’m talking about a habitual noise violator with a history of more than 8 years of disturbing the peace of the historic city center.

Part 1

My proposed wording for noise violations is this: if the noise can be heard outside the perimeter of the noise violator’s property, it must be fined; by the same principle, if the noise can be heard outside of the noise violator’s car, it must be fined. This would force these callous, incredibly insensitive people to adjust the volume of their music, events and/or arguments so that their neighbors cannot hear the noise. If it can be heard, it can and should be fined. The only loophole I would put in is for construction or other work noises, which I find to be the only noises that are justifiable. Construction must occur, whether it’s new construction, renovation or restoration, and work such as mowing the lawn or doing various house repairs must also go on and is, I would say, necessary, so it must be tolerated and understood, within reason. But any of the non-work stuff must and should adhere to the simple principle of not disturbing the neighbors, whether they’re in the house next door or the car in the next lane, or passersby trying to enjoy a quiet walk through town. I think the current schedule of “quiet hours” that exist on the books in most countries, such as 10 pm – 8 am and a “siesta” from 1 pm – 2 pm in the afternoon, is a good schedule and should be kept, but it should be literally enforced by the book, not left up to the interpretation of corruptible policemen and local governments. And I think that even if a noise violation occurs outside of those quiet hours, as long as it meets the very simple criteria described above, it still qualifies as a noise violation and it must be fined. Someone else’s loud music or screaming is still extremely bothersome, no matter if it happens at 3 pm or 3 am. Should they want to blow out their eardrums, let them do so with the aid of headphones, not loudspeakers.

Enforcing the new wording should also be very simple: using the guidelines above, first-time noise violators must get a written warning. Any time after that, no matter what, they get fined, by the book. In other words, noise violators with a long history of breaking the law should never get a break. They should always get fined. The time for warning them has long since passed.

Part 2

I would also suggest a restriction on the use of amplifiers and speakers for public events organized by local governments to only those venues that are specifically equipped for noise abatement and/or are physically distanced from residential areas, such as concert venues. This would do away with loud events that are heard throughout entire neighborhoods or towns. I’m not saying public concerts shouldn’t happen in town squares, or that musicians shouldn’t be allowed to play on the streets, but the noise they generate must not be amplified artificially. It must be generated solely by analog musical instruments or their voice. No microphones, no speakers. That way, it simply wouldn’t travel as far and as artificially as the deafening stuff blared through loudspeakers, and would become a more natural sound that can be enjoyed within its physical context.

I think those governments that are so inclined to apply these rules would quickly see a much-needed improvement in the noise levels in their cities, and I know for a fact that most working people would appreciate having more quiet time to focus on their tasks.


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