Photo credit: Liza Summer from Pexels

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

A St. Petersburg, Florida resident, Fred Sherman, is speaking out against the loud bells signaling the exiting of cars from the garage of a nearby building, an exclusive Beach Drive Condo. He hears these loud bells from the 31st floor of his nearby condo–he claims that once you hear the sound, you cannot stop noticing it. “It’s noise pollution, says Sherman, “I’d almost use the word evil.” Others may be hearing these loud sounds as well but may be reluctant to come forward as so many people are who are exposed to disturbing noises.

In seeking information about what can be done to lessen the sound of the garage bell, Sherman discovered that it “does not appear to violate the city’s noise ordinance and seems to serve a legitimate safety purpose.” Sherman hired an attorney to file a nuisance lawsuit against the Ovation Condo’s owners association claiming that his sleep has been disturbed and the sounds of the bells have prevented him from enjoying his condo. The condo responded that loud bells avoided “catastrophic collisions” and that Sherman did not show “the bell was more than a trifling annoyance or discomfort.” The case has been referred to private mediation

Many large cities, including New York City, have parking garages that alert people to cars exiting from their facilities and employ alerting systems that do not disturb residents in nearby apartments. Jeff Terrozas, who owns a company that makes parking garage warning systems, is quoted in this article saying that his company’s warning systems are designed with volume control.

I wonder if volume control warning systems are used in other condos in St. Petersburg and whether those systems guard against catastrophic collisions. Additionally, did Sherman’s attorney support the lawsuit with literature that links noise to adverse mental and physical health effects? Intrusive noises are no longer viewed today as “a trifling annoyance or discomfort.”