Letter: City should not have complaint-based noise ordinance

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’m not in favor of the present noise ordinance. I proposed that they take dBA (A-weighted decibels) readings all the same, near the sources of noise: 20 feet from buskers, 20 feet from amps and drums, 20 feet from businesses (the property line), 20 feet from automobiles and trucks with faulty mufflers.

Right now, the drums and amps we get from Pack Square will be from a public space and be “noise disturbance.” Nothing much has happened to ever enforce noise disturbance. It is a little undefined, although the new administrators — they can be called upon a complaint — can come to our condos and can take readings and then act.

My preference is the administrators always act on their own without any need for residents to complain. This ordinance means we will have to endure “above standards” noise and may have to all purchase noise meters to figure out if those making noise are in compliance; then use our own meters; call in; and wait for quite a while as the complaint is registered. Then the administrator can get out to help, can come to our condos and take readings and proceed to help us. This is nuts.

We should not have a complaint-based system; we should never have to get a noise administrator to come into our condos to measure sound after we complain. We should have administrators acting on their own to serve the residents of the city. The city should take care of the noise with their administrators.

The condo owners will find that 72-75 dBA at the condo — for hours and consisting of any music: drums, amps, etc. — can be very disturbing. Then, of course, dBA readings do not report the “bass” well, and that low frequency will penetrate the walls of our condo. Even if just below the threshold, it will certainly be disturbing.

Reporting only the noise that gets into residences will allow some venues to be very loud, and others with closer residences will have to be less loud. Rabbit Rabbit can be about 115 dBA before The Aston condos receive the “less than” 73-75 dBA. Other businesses with residences across the street from a bar or performance may only be able to produce maybe 80 dBA before being in violation. How is this fair to businesses?

And complaining to the Police Department about noise of vehicles — that has been a disaster. The Police Department seems to never be in the core, never gives tickets for noise. Under this ordinance, they will still be responsible for “vehicle” noise. We can be disturbed by four-six vehicles on parade — racing, blowing coal — with huge noise from the engines, and nothing is being done. This happens many times near weekends after 11 p.m. and usually before 3 a.m. It seems nothing has been done. We just need about four hours of enforcement, even every week or two, and that can’t be done? Tickets would likely end this excessive noise. We need them issued.

And as for the police helping reduce noise with the flag-wavers, amps and megaphones and as they block the kids from enjoying the pigs? Nope, it does not happen. If an officer shows up, the officer does no noise control but sits on the wall and says, “First Amendment rights.” Of course, this is not true; the First Amendment gives them the right to be there; the noise ordinance is something that should be enforced for all noise.

I am very frustrated with how loud Asheville has become. Buskers frequently cannot perform as they enjoy “close by” listeners and contributors. The buskers are driven away by those making loud noises: the drums, the amps. Asheville is worse for its inability to control noise.

I applaud the city for adding in “administrators” to help monitor the sound. I am frustrated that they can’t help the residents more by enforcing a code without needing a resident’s complaint and the resulting mess of collecting proof — coming to residences, necessitated by the ordinance as presented. It did not have to be this hard to lessen the noise in the core of Asheville.

— Jerry Hinz



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2 thoughts on “Letter: City should not have complaint-based noise ordinance

  1. Curious

    Who are these “administrators” the letter writer refers to? Do they respond on site to noise violations as the writer suggests? Apparently he wants someone or some group to be constantly on patrol for noise violations. Is this feasible?

  2. kw

    A good starting point may be to keep tabs on the venues we know to be noisy. You can hear Salvage Station from Montford and from Richmond Hill. My windows actually shook last night from throbbing bass that most likely came from Salvage Station. I’d suggest an administrator check that place out every weekend evening from 7-10pm. My guess is that there are half a dozen such places to keep eyes and ears on as well.

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