* There are few things more vulnerable in our society, more crosswise with our (mixed) culture, more difficult to advance, secure and rationally discuss --than matters of solitude, quiet, noise abatement --places of sanctuary for the soul to seek within, places for long, uninterrupted thought.
* I hope to keep this page short, simple and supplementary to the excellent web pages on these issues to be found at: www.quiet.org,www.silencethehorns.org, the Noise Abatement Society, their "Quiet Mark" program^, and elsewhere.
^ For rating appliances, which has been well received by industries in England and many European nations.
* Aside from the introspection, spiritual peace, and
the philosophy of it, should any town, city or existing community (with
adequate physical isolation) wish to experience a cultural and economic
renaissance (as well as the difficulties associated with booming real estate
values), it need only adopt and enforce an effective and rational noise
ordinance (or "CC&Rs" for a PUD/community within a city). This space:
A quiet City/town of the future
--is reserved to extoll that community's virtues.
* And/Or: try this idea on for size.
A good place to start would be with ordinances controlling the use of back-up beepers within the limits of a city or planned unit development --since such a forward looking community would also be looking forward to phenomenal growth and construction. (Here's a good, 2-sided discussion on that issue.)
* Approaches to such community developments do exist and not all of them are high priced "gated communities" for the elite. I live near a pleasant one for ordinary retired folks who get by on their Social Security.
Unfortunately, I don't know of any "Century 21" class
national real estate companies which help us locate and purchase such properties.
You can get run downs and comparative charts on a range of other issues
which might concern the home buyer or renter (crime, weather, schools,
clinics, etc.), even panoramic neighborhood photos, but no information
about effective noise control.
* Please correct me if I'm wrong. If there is indeed such a real estate chain, it will get free top billing here and probably at several other web sites that I'm aware of as well.
I suggest this is not only a fantastic opportunity for a national real estate chain to exploit, but a spark plug which would spur healthy competition for livability in general. The civic prizes to gain include a flood of discriminating home buyers who also happen to be successful cultural creatives: consulting engineers, scientists, inventors, literary authors, screen writers, on-line educators, university extension professors, artists, programmers --folks with portable professions and vocations who think and communicate for a living. How many towns are there who'd like to open up a can of civic renaissance and pride --especially for those which lead the way, those which are "firstest with the mostest" peace and quiet to offer.
I don't think we're talking much municipal investment and risk. A well drafted ordinance (with guidance from the Rutgers Noise Technical Assistance Center^), and routine enforcement, paid for in part with fines --should cost less than filling potholes.
^ Contact: Eric M. Zwerling, M.S. / Director, Rutgers
Noise Technical Assistance Center, Rutgers University (Specialist in Noise
Law and Enforcement Training) - http://snowfall.envsci
.rutgers.edu/estc/rntac/ - Zwerling@envsci.rutgers.edu
* As to municipal noise ordinances and what's Constitutionally do-able, city councils (working closely with legal counsel and the Rutgers NTAC) should take note, both of their existing "nuisance ordinance" (which I've seen modeled as "Ordinance 100" in some venues), and of court cases which have successfully challenged the enforcement of such ordinances. I have no legal education, but anyone can suggest starting points for qualified inquiries and opinions.
* Traditional noise ordinances might include a permit process to sanction the use of a "sound truck" for a limited period of time, provided that an adequate reason is given (an impending election, perhaps) for such an intrusive disturbance. To my reading of our city's nuisance ordinance (which is quaint enough to concern itself with collar bells on pets), the term "sound truck" is broadly defined, so as to easily include "boom cars".
Whether or not boom cars can be curtailed with such a legal tool has to be considered against the background of relevant court cases. Some years ago, wanton horn blowing in the City of Eugene, Oregon was successfully defended on the basis of it being "free speech".
* I've been impressed with how competent legal counsel can re-frame and reword laws/ordinances in order to avoid objections, but to still accomplish the same (or maybe a better) social purpose. Instead of going to the mat with the methodology and calibration of sound pressure meters, the language "plainly audible ---" (to a sworn officer) seems to have obviated much technical tedium. Again: the Rutgers NTAC is abreast of such developments.
* Our U.S. culture suffers from delusions that The Individual can captain his ship, king his castle, take matters in hand, look after his/her own interests --and then the invisible hand of the free market will eventually sort things out for us. The pervasiveness of noise defies such efforts. --Craig