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

It is important to pass legislation to curb noise, but unless the legislation is enforced, the noise problems will continue and very likely worsen. Residents in New York City have been protesting, especially during the pandemic, that their complaints about late-night parties and noisy neighbors have not resulted in the lessening of these noises. Thus, it was no surprise to learn that when Queens Councilman Robert Holden called 311 to complain about his “neighbors blasted music until 3 a. m,” the “police failed to take any meaningful action.” In Councilman Holden’s case, the neighbors on his block were not given a summons.

In response to his personal experience with a noisy neighbor, as well as his awareness that noise complaints have been too often ignored, Councilman Holden plans to introduce legislation that will increase fines. In addition, he has asked the Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct to “provide the number of noise complaints and summonses issued in 2020 and 2021.” The 104th Precinct responded that they do take actions on noise complaints and stated that 60 summonses were issued to noise complaints in 2021 compared to one in 2020. “The 104th Precinct takes all quality-of-life complaints seriously and will continue to monitor and address all complaints.”

Councilman Holden said he has long been concerned about quality-of-life issues. He noted that “when people can’t sleep, It affects their health,” acknowledging the impact of noise as a health hazard. He also spoke of the relationship between large noisy gatherings and crime.

Reading so frequently about noise complaints not being taken seriously by the police department, I would suggest that all city council members ask precincts in their districts to report about the number of noise complaints they have dealt with and how many resulted in summonses and resolutions. This information should then be shared with residents in their council districts, so that the data could be assessed as to whether or not noise complaints have been tended to appropriately.