Letter: New noise ordinance isn’t protecting residents

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The city says it is happy with the noise being enforced based upon loudness being over 72 dBA [A-weighted decibels] daytime and 67 dBA nighttime (62 dBA in the wee hours). Many of us disagree. We as residents in the city are constantly bombarded by noise, and we need an ordinance that lets us enjoy our residences without this excessive noise intrusion.

Sure, Asheville is a noisy town, and some of it is really OK, as I will try to explain.

Factors for a new noise ordinance could be:

1. Does it disturb a person of normal sensitivity? (As Greenville, S.C., has — and they also have “sandwich boards” out on sidewalks warning of noise penalties.)

2. What is the duration of the noise? The Buskers Collective (with the city) has a guide at two hours, and that is not being followed.

3. What is the type of noise? Examples being: Is it “repetitive” — is it the same songs over and over; maybe drums, loudly striking buckets and cymbals alone (as in “no music being involved”). Is it disturbing by being loud in amps, which is noise to residents even if under 67 dBA?

There is a resurrection of downtown living, growing every year, and should not those residents have some protection for what is truly “noise” to them?

Lots of what is noise may not be meeting 67 or 72 dBA (in the present ordinance). Noise right now in our living rooms even at less than 67 dBA really does “disturb.”

Maybe the city should consider having a separate section in the ordinance focusing on downtown residential, as some buildings with residents receive direct blasting of noise, especially from buskers not following the buskers’ guidelines.

The city might approve exemptions to the noise ordinance: Most people living downtown can accept some activities over 67/72 dBA, as most might not consider them “noise.”

The city could approve some noisemaking activities as being acceptable near residences. Usually those activities are festivals, fireworks, sales events in Pack Square, bands at the bandshell, etc. All of these could, operating under some guidelines, be over the limit of dBA and be allowed by a city permit. I think this would also help the enforcement job, as all city-approved events could be exempt from the noise ordinance.

We do not want to stop the opportunities for justified uses in Asheville by saying all over 67 or 72 dBA must stop. Therefore the 67/72 limits are not a good indication of noise (our ordinance), since that limit is frequently violated even now by city permits.

We do want, most of the time, to be able to enjoy some quiet where we live. Even 67 dBA from the street in our residences is more than we should have to endure. In particular, our range vent funnels the noise right into our living area 24 hours a day.

The duration matters, and noisemaking activities matter and could be limited to under two hours (now frequently they intrude even over five hours).

The present noise ordinance does not meet our needs, and we hope to see significant changes. Others at our residential building expressed their concerns to me recently. Just some examples of noise can be: drums for many hours, preaching/shouting into microphones, repetition that drives us nuts and also seems to us as “noise”; and the amplification that reverberates around Pack Square, which we do not know how to stop.

The city should consider no amplification and no unmuffled drums (as is in the buskers’ guide), and both would be beneficial additions to the ordinance.

Buskers following the buskers’ guidelines benefit by having close listeners participating and contributing. There is no need for busking being “loud,” thereby disturbing residents and businesses.

We need a noise ordinance that is not just a dBA level as it is now but includes what actually disturbs residents and includes how long the noise occurs and may even include the type of noise, while still accepting that the city can permit functions it deems important and contribute to the community and tourism.

We have heard that businesses also are weary of the noise outside their establishments, but some feel it difficult to complain as to possibly face retribution, either damage or maybe loss of customers should they complain. Please consider the businesses that  are impacted by noise and need more protection from noise. Their outside seating areas can be very loud and noise intrusive.

It really is up to our City Council to also address this activity noise ordinance as well as the vehicle noise problems (responsibility of the Police Department), as well as address the activity noise (this letter) that is now received by those in residences.

The number of residences in town is growing, and the present ordinance is not now protecting our residents from what is truly “noise.”

— Jerry and Diane Hinz



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11 thoughts on “Letter: New noise ordinance isn’t protecting residents

  1. indy499

    The levels in the ordinace adopted by the city, esp for downtown, violate state, federal and WHO guidelines. The city knowingly proceeded because they don’t care about residents, esp downtown residents.

    The city kowtows to the Private Interest Project group that runs the Rabbit Rabbit noise factory. Roney is in their pocket to spin nonsensical justifications, like it’s important for local musicians. Of course, the noise polluter Rabbit Rabbit doesn’t hire local musicians. They hire national acts. The existence of such actually drains entertainment dollars from smaller inside venues where local musicians actually do work.

    The city complains about housing moving to short term rentals. The city complains about sprawl. The city complains about lack of infill and density, which could help support a real bus system.

    What does the city do to move on those issues? Enact higher noise levels in downtown than the rest of the city (no council members live downtown) which makes downtown living undesireable. As a bonus, remove the downtown police substation and reduce manpower in Prichard Park and elsewhere downtown. You know, one of the city’s higher crime areas.

  2. R.G.

    If the city thinks the noise ordinance is working, the city has never tried to go to sleep before 10pm to be rested to go to work as a caregiver so that they can pay their mortgage and continue to pay taxes that the city squanders kowtowing to people who do not contribute taxes to the city. If the city did try to get sleep to continue to be a contributing tax-paying citizen, they’d be frustrated by the way their windows shake from the excessive bass from Salvage Station so many nights of the week. Shame on the city.

  3. blueridgeguvnor

    Ban busking, the real musicians of Asheville would thank you for it. It’s a win win for everyone. They devalue live music and are bothering residents. Enough.

  4. gblockchain

    “There is a resurrection of downtown living, growing every year, and should not those residents have some protection for what is truly “noise” to them?” – sounds like this complaint is solely based around a grievance of living downtown. I’d say you made the wrong choice in choosing where to sleep at night. Construction noise if valid but let Music & Arts thrive in downtown. Stop your whining and re-locate to a quiet neighborhood. Ultimately, you’re adding to the attempts of destroying any culture we have left in this city.

    • Jerry Hinz

      Its interesting that you express about destroying culture when most of us fully support the buskers, the bands,
      the festivals- pretty much anything the city would approve even if above the dBA limits. I guess we are not
      on the same page as – ” Beating on drums alone with no music ” —and ” Shouting into amplified microphones” as is our complaint
      and must be your idea of ‘culture”. Anyway, most cities can have a thriving “culture” – entertainment district- and limit the
      type of noise, the duration of noise and the dBA of noise — and have all, including the residents downtown, enjoying the vibrancy
      of the city.

    • indy499

      Living here long before the rabbit rabbit noise factory came into existence. Maybe your are one of the lying owners who bought Roney to ramrod thru the unhealthy, hearing damaging levels?

  5. LIAMD

    As someone who has complained to the city on numerous occasions, it’s obvious they do not care about the citizens who live downtown. Well, except for the massive amount of property tax I pay each year. I’m sure they care about that. The city has a Noise Compliance Office, but they have the same level of concern for downtown residents as most other Asheville departments. Which is to say…. Zero.

    • gblockchain

      If you decided to purchase a residence downtown and you’re opposed to any “noise” associated with musical happenings, you chose the wrong place to live. Expect to experience discomfort establishments close at 2am. We’ll expect the whining to stop please.

      • R.G.

        There are a great many hard-working citizens residing in Montford and Richmond Hill–people who have been here for decades before Salvage Station set up their noise machine on the river, so your argument doesn’t hold any water. If it did, I guess it would be in the crappy single-use eco-terrorist plastic cups that Salvage Station continues to use to serve beer to the masses–many of whom wear ear plugs because the music’s too loud.

  6. G Man

    Maybe Asheville needs a new ordinance to require a reasonable level of soundproofing in residential wall construction.

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