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New York Post


Quiet, Please!

January 13, 2013

By Nicole Gelinas

It’s the No. 1 complaint of New Yorkers noise. How does a new mayor help? By putting the lessons of proactive crime fighting to work for our ears

Murders are at a record low and New York (probably) isn’t facing imminent disaster. How can a mayoral candidate do what the last two mayors did: run on a platform of competence a campaign directed toward everyone, not just pandering to special interests?

The answer is easy: the single biggest factor affecting New Yorkers’ day-to-day quality of life whether you’re rich, poor or in the middle is noise. New Yorkers are not happy about it.

The noise crisis isn’t just anecdotal. Last year, the city logged 2 million complaints on its 311 system. And 10.3% of the calls 208,769 were about noise. That’s more than twice the number logged in 2004.

Even this understates the case. Many callers and online "complainers" on other topics aren’t complaining at all. The city had 50,032 reports of lost property, for example, and tens of thousands of requests for various pamphlets.

Plus, a hefty chunk of the tens of thousands of people who complained about construction were probably more upset about construction noise.

Noise complainers aren’t crazy. As Ed Wendell, president of his block association in Woodhaven, Queens, puts it, few are complaining about the neighbor who has a party once. Nor are people griping about the respectful developer who works within his allotted weekday hours (if there is such a creature).

Rather, New Yorkers are upset because they must endure chronic, debilitating noise.

And if a noise is loud and persistent enough to bother you, chances are it is illegal under the city’s ordinances.

On paper, New York strictly regulates decibel levels on everything from bars to trucks. After-hours and weekend construction, especially, must be pretty quiet.

What kind of noise are people mad about?

The list reads like a Dr. Seuss tale.

Before you complain to 311, you can choose from "noise from large party," "noise from neighbor," "noise from street," "noise from dog," "noise from animal other than dog," "noise from factory," "noise from ice cream truck," "noise from garbage truck," "noise from construction" (which opens up its own set of decision points) and "noise from bar" among others.

But mostly, it depends on where you live.

In Woodhaven, it’s parties. "Repeat offenders" hold huge bashes, complete with speakers bigger than human beings, Wendell says.

In Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, Brooklyn, it’s incessant tour helicopters, says Craig Hammerman, community board president. (In large part that’s because City Councilwoman Gale Brewer got rid of much of the problem on the Upper West Side, so the tours moved.)

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