Op-ed spurs noise pollution debate

Photo credit: Daniel Frank

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

Our blog readers might not be surprised by this Jersey City Times op-ed that speaks to the lack of enforcement of noise bylaws. In this op-ed, Jersey City resident Michael De Gruccio details the extremely disturbing loud music that emanates from his neighbor’s weekend parties. For a few years, De Gruccio pleaded with his neighbor to lower the music, to no avail. He then called the police to enforce existing noise regulations. The police warned the neighbor, but as soon as law enforcement left, the music level soared once again.

De Gruccio eventually reached a police supervisor who sent another officer to the neighbor’s home. The officer explained the noise regulations in order to get the neighbor to lower the volume. Finally, after five years of disturbances, the neighbor’s parties are less frequent and less loud. 

De Gruccio goes on to discuss the disturbing noise of illegally-modified cars. But when he called the police, no ticket was issued. With the help of others similarly affected by this noise, he learns how police respond to noise complaints and concludes that noise ordinances are not being enforced.

Interestingly, his op-ed set off a contentious back-and-forth on Facebook. Some argued that loud sound systems are a vital part of urban soundscapes, while others find them annoying. This Jersey City Times article explains that arguments over noise can be deadly, referring to the recent New York City subway shooting over loud music. Furthermore, noise is a serious health hazard.

Jersey City officials told reporter Samuel Rivo that staff don’t keep a record of noise complaints. We also learn that De Gruccio is not giving up on trying to lessen noise. He plans to sue the city if it doesn’t enforce the law. With so many other residents complaining about the lack of enforcement of noise bylaws, should we expect more lawsuits demanding noise regulation enforcement?

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