Photo credit: Monstera

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

GrowNYC is an environmental group in New York City that oversees farmers’ markets, recycling programs, community and school gardens and, in general, promotes environmental awareness among New Yorkers. The New York City Mayor appoints the Board, and I have served on the Board for over 30 years, after being appointed by five mayors. GrowNYC also has a section on its website that provides information on noise impacts and with my long-term experience working on the noise issue. New Yorkers are told that should they require assistance with a noise problem, they can contact me. It goes without saying that a lot of people have contacted me over the past 30 years.

Abby Reinhard, BestLife, writes about a recent survey that asked about top neighbor frustrations and found that “noise [was] ranked as the number one neighbor annoyance.” This was true for people living in single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses. I can add that of all the calls I get about noise intrusions, neighbor noise ranks number one.

While Reinhard suggests that “you do what you can to mitigate the sound,” this response would not be acceptable to the people who call me. They want me to act on their behalf. This could mean contacting the neighbor or the landlord of a building to work out some way to lessen the noise or to assist a public official in seeking a resolution to the noise complaint.

I am familiar with the bylaws that govern noise intrusions in New York City and with the agencies charged with enforcing these bylaws. I have also had years of experience working on neighbor noise problems. Thus, my assistance can lead to lessening of the noise, whether it be from loud music played late at night to children running across bare floors to late night parties. I am not always successful but from the many thank you notes I have received from individuals who have sought my assistance, I can say that I have been able to bring some quiet back into many lives.

We must remember that noise is a health hazard and it diminishes one’s quality of life. We are not simply talking about a mere annoyance. We must also remember that neighbor noise very often stems from a lack of respect for others. People who live in close proximity to others must be mindful of how their sounds could affect others. Quiet begins with each one of us.

So my advice is this: Keep your music down, cover your floors, use quieter appliances, avoid late night parties, and, most importantly, respect your neighbor’s right to quiet.