On June 1, the Asheville Public Safety Committee passed a motion to send the city’s proposed noise ordinance to City Council with a recommendation to allow noise as high as 70-75 decibels at sites of complaint, including residences, in the Central Business District.
The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods is strongly opposed and urges the Council to reject this recommendation that contradicts the city’s top two guiding principles for a noise ordinance: (1) “excessive noise is a public health, welfare and safety hazard” and (2) “the community has a right to an environment free from excessive noise that may degrade their quality of life or diminish property values.”
For years and in meeting comments, residents of the CBD, Kenilworth and other neighborhoods have expressed their suffering from excessive commercial and industrial noise, something the committee did not discuss. Without evidence, the committee decided high decibel limits would stimulate economic recovery for the music industry.
Imagine living with continuous noise from an operating vacuum cleaner surrounding your residence, equal to 75 decibels. Like the Richter scale for earthquakes, decibels are logarithmic. An increase in 10 dB represents a tenfold intensity, a doubling of noise. A small increase can mean a significant increase in potential damage to hearing.
For decades, the American Public Health Association and the World Health Organization have studied noise pollution’s effects on health. Because continued exposure to excessive noise is highly stressful, damages children’s development and leads to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses, WHO recommends a nighttime limit of 45 dB in residential zones.
CAN urges the City Council to act with compassion and respect for all by adopting guidelines of leading public health organizations. By prioritizing noise mitigation, Asheville can support music without causing harm to residents. Asheville deserves a noise ordinance based on proven science that will create a safer, healthier, more sustainable, more socially just and more livable Asheville for everyone.
— Rick Freeman
President, Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods