A Worse Punishment for Sisyphus: Policing Noise in a Metropolis
Hello out there, theFrontStep Readers! You may (or just as likely, may not) know my name from my blogs for Redfin. I’ve kindly been invited to write also for theFrontSteps, so here I am, on the steps, with my first blog.
So here’s the setting: last night, 2:00am, sultry night, people walking up from the bars, falling down, giggling. That noise doesn’t bother me much. I’d have to be a hypocrite if I tried to pretend I’ve never, after closing time, made too much noise under someone’s window as I staggered home. But another noise does bother me: some a-hole flooring his car and slamming on the breaks as he reaches the stop sign in front of my house. Then, from fully stationary, he floods the car again, tyring to go from zero to sixty instantaneously. Then he screeches off, circles the block, and comes back to do it again.
But we all live in a city. We can’t really expect quiet, can we? We can hope for it, and maybe in some areas, get it most of the time. But in the end, we’re sharing with a lot of people, some of them loud and possibly crazy. That’s why this new law aiming to curb SF noise interests me.
From the Chronicle:
The “Noise Control Ordinance” [which is already on the books, will now update] for the first time in more than three decades how the city regulates loud noise from mechanical sources like garbage trucks and ventilation systems along with bass and drum noise from nightclubs, which currently have no restrictions……The measure should be in front of the full Board of Supervisors for consideration on Nov. 4.
The current noise laws are essentially unenforceable because the original law, passed in 1973, based regulations on zoning, when there were only 19 types of zones. Today, there are more than 90, according to city leaders. The technology used to measure sound also has changed radically.
The proposed law would allow city inspectors responding to a complaint to measure the base level of ambient noise, which largely comes from traffic, and then sets limits on how much that can be exceeded by both commercial and residential sources.
Geez, SF. Get on that right after you solve the homeless crisis, the budget crisis, and also create world peace.
Still, noise pollution is a much identified problem, a source of health problems serious enough for most major cities to take action against it. Here in SF, for instance, we have Sound Pollution.org (among other such agencies). Surely then we’re better off in quiet nabes.
So where are those nabes? I live in Golden Gate Heights- pretty quiet, but not as much on 9th Ave (my street), where the #6 runs well after 2:00am and, as indicated, post bar stumblers as well as the more dangerous drivers come up regularly. Other streets though, especially those that don’t really go all the way through, are quieter.
Pac Heights? For sure. If you read Arrian Binnings post, you know that property value really only goes up there. Couldn’t do that without the hush lots of money can buy.
Glen Park and Bernal? They’re alike in that it depends on the street. Coach A’s post on San Francisco Schtuff reminds of of the familial (and thus, pretty sedate) element Bernal offers; however, parts of Bernal and Glen Park are also close to the Freeway and BART, so not sedate at all.
Noe? Same as Bernal. Parts are very tranquil, but overall, proximity to Castro and Mission= noise.
Castro? See North Beach.
Mission? Never quiet.
Diamond Heights/Twin Peaks: pretty quiet. Pretty boring too though.
Ashbury Heights? See Pacific Heights.
Haight-Ashbury? See Mission.
Tenderloin: Lots of noise, all of it scary.
Okay, you see where I’m going with this. If you don’t like noise at all, you may want to consider living in the suburbs. But if you can take a little (or a lot) your perfect neighborhood is out there. Spend a full day and a full night or two in your future nabe, maybe with the city’s new noise reading machine in hand, before you sign on a lease– or, more fatally, a mortgage.
Photo credit: Vicpark.com