Letter: Asheville deserves noise ordinance based on science

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville deserves noise ordinance based on science

  1. iah

    Ashevillians can start a new group: International Association of Homebodies or IAH. The group could promote never moving anywhere nor traveling as being morally superior and refer to themselves as “The Static Quo”. They could make public speeches online using a kind of faux british english and deplore how everything good is in the static past of nonmovement, where everyone lived stoned in amber, unable to move even a finger lest they delve into the immoral world of physical movement in space and time.

  2. WK

    Good luck getting any compassion from those conniving chicks.
    They don’t care about our health and public safety. They keep showing that over and over again…

  3. Mike Rains

    The proposed noise ordinance looks very well thought out and appears to be a good attempt to balance neighborhood impacts form central biz noise/music. I don’t agree with the all night allowance in the CBD, even of somewhat reduced noise. After 12 or 1 am, that should not be allowed.

    Are you aware of the following item added under the noise limit table? It appears to address adjoining neighborhoods to the CBD. Of course the “X” reduction has yet to be determined and as always, the devil is in the details. FYI, Charlotte recently moved their decibel limit up to 85 dB for similar CBD noise/music, but I believe their hours are somewhat more restrictive at night.

    (4) **The sound level limits shall be reduced by an additional X decibels when measured at the
    property line of an abutting residential district (alternatively the reduction could be measured
    beyond the property line of the sound source in a residential district). Staff commentary: staff is
    recommending the addition of this standard to provide protection to residentially zoned
    properties located in close proximity to commercial sound producers. Specific standards will be
    field tested and incorporated into this draft ordinance prior to consideration by City Council.

    Finally, the fines for violation need serious reconsideration upward. $100 for first, $200 for second violation and has to be same entity, etc. In today’s $$’s, $100 is a small price to pay for a loud music session. Of course, all the city’s fines are too low based on what inflation has done to the dollar. But I would be pushing for much higher limits on this; particularly for the second and subsequent violations.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.