Een nieuwe wet moet de geluidsoverlast in New York gaan beteugelen. Hoewel de staf van het klachtennummer 311 in New York aangeeft dat de geluidsoverlast sterk is toegenomen door het rookverbod in de horeca – de rokers buiten voor de deur maken veel lawaai – regelt de wet niet de overlast door mensen, maar alleen muziek uit geluidsinstallaties.
Volgens burgemeester Bloomberg, de man die het algemene rookverbod in de stad er doordrukte, bestaat die toegenomen overlast door rokers op de stoep niet. Maar gemeenteraadsleden zijn het daar niet mee eens: “There has been an increase in calls to 311 for noise,” she said. “Where do you think it is coming from, Virgin Mary in the sky? Please.”
A few well-placed citations to noisy bar hoppers may remedy the situation, says Hatalak of E. Seventh St. “If there’s some real enforcement where one or two people get ticketed, people will start to keep it down and it will make life a lot easier,” he said.
The threat of that actually happening has bar owners bracing for another hit to their businesses. “They’ve forced us to put our customers out on the street and now we’re going to be penalized for it,” said Sandee Wright, owner of the Whiskey Ward on Essex St. “It’s going to open up a way for them to shut a lot of us down.”
As the mayor’s proposal currently reads, law enforcement officials will be able to cite violators for “plainly audible” sound based on their own judgment, not on the reading of a sound level meter. Bar owners fear that although the law does not specifically ban people from talking on the street, a zealous inspector may cite a bar for loud smokers and, because there is no way to officially measure the noise, the bar owner will be unable to challenge the citation.
Some residents think that citing the bars is the best way to solve the problem. “Bar owners aren’t taking responsibility for the areas in front of their bars and they could do that,” said Standish. “They should be penalized for loud crowds on their sidewalks. They’re terrible neighbors.”
If nothing else, the smoking ban has increased animosity between bar owners and residents, and it is unclear whether the new noise legislation will alleviate or exacerbate the problem. “[The smoking ban] has helped create an antagonistic environment between the community and the clubs,” said Bookman, attorney for the Nightlife Association. “The music has never been a big problem. I can count on my hands the number of times an establishment has gotten a repeat violation for music.”