Photo credit: Kat Wilcox

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

The Quiet Coalition readers are well aware of the harmful effects of noise on our mental and physical health. I have written about the relationship between crime and noise, noting that noise can lead to disputes which in turn can result in aggressive actions. Thus, I was not surprised by a recent article by Josephine Stratman in the NY Daily News about the rise of violence in response to noise complaints.  Stratman identified four people who were slain in confrontations involving noise since December 2022.

The most recent case involved a father of two young children who after complaining about his neighbor’s loud music was stabbed as he walked away from the neighbor. The other three cases similarly involved arguments over noise. Stratman tells us that this month alone there were 40,000 noise complaints to 311 and this number was significantly higher than the number of 311 noise complaints in 2019. Neighbor noise ranks high on the list of complaints. You may wonder what happens to these complaints, especially since the person recently stabbed had complained to 311. He had also complained to his building management. The answer is given in the article: “nothing changed.”

The answer is comparable to the one that most people will give when asked if their 311 complaints led to the issuance of violations to the noise-makers or to resolutions. Do read this press release on State Comptroller DiNapoli’s report on noise complaints to 311 from a few years ago.

Stratman asked me why I thought the overall number of noise complaints rose recently. My response was that it was due to more time spent at home, outdoor dining, and loud cars and helicopters. I also explained that noise adversely affects our physical and mental health and, yes, can “drive people to be aggressive.”

Rachel Miller-Bradshaw is quoted in the article as saying that noise is a major issue and that residents have a right to a “serene living environment.” But as I often say, we have the ways to lessen noise but we lack the will to do so. Will these horrific homicides lead to increased efforts to reduce noise pollution?

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