The fight for quiet streets in Moab, Utah

Photo credit: Chris Janda

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

Posters and signs are often used to remind people about activities they should not engage in. For example, “Curb your dog” and “Keep Off” signs are frequently placed near small green areas and back yards in New York City. These signs are known as prompts and they are generally effective because most people abide by them. To get some quiet in their homes, especially from off-highway vehicles traveling along a nearby major thoroughfare, Pete Gross and his neighbors in Moab, Utah are placing “WE SUPPORT QUIET STREETS” signs in their back yards.

Despite having a house with thick walls and double-paned windows, Gross says the noise from the nearby thoroughfare still can be heard within his home. One should note that the signs also have pictures of birds; thus, pointing to the pleasant sounds that are welcomed in our environment. However, there is also a political message to these signs. The Utah State Legislature recently barred counties from regulating off-highway vehicles through business licensing but kept in place Moab’s noise ordinance. This ordinance is aimed at limiting the noise from OHVs, and OHV businesses are now claiming that this ordinance restricts their authority, causing damage to their businesses.

Gross and his neighbors are combating noise but also showing support for their local government which apparently understands the hazards of noise. But will the quiet signs and the support expressed by Gross and his neighbors for the local noise ordinance prevail in the court case filed by the local OHV businesses? I hope so and wish Gross and his neighbors good luck.


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