“Stop The Noise” Act Passes City Council; Consider Fixing Your Muffler To Avoid Fines

The “Stop Spreading the Noise” Act is intended to decrease noise pollution and increase quality-of-life for New Yorkers, firstly by creating a network of hidden sensors that ticket particularly loud vehicles. Noise inspectors would also have new reporting requirements elsewhere. Keith Powers–the City Council’s Majority Leader and the act’s lead sponsor– quipped that “even in the city that doesn’t sleep, New Yorkers deserve some peace and quiet.”

| 20 Dec 2023 | 01:48

The “Stop Spreading the Noise” Act, which will make noise cameras part of NYC’s traffic infrastructure and give a boost to the Department of Environmental Production’s noise inspectors, was passed by the New York City Council on December 6.

Spearheaded by Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, it will specifically consist of four new policies. One will ticket owners of passing vehicles that exceed noise levels of 85 decibels (the CDC’s recommended safe upper limit). This will be picked up by hidden monitors, modeled on the city’s speed cameras, that will be scattered among traffic routes. Fines will begin at $800 and go up to $2,500, for repeat offenses. Five cameras will be required to be installed in each borough by September 30, 2025.

The remaining policies are related to the aforementioned noise inspectors. They’ll now be required to measure construction-related noise levels during inspections, which may be easier considering that they’ll also have newfound permission to enter individual dwellings (which was legally tricky beforehand).

The DEP is also now required to post the results of an inspection online within five business days. Anybody seeking a noise inspection report will no longer have to submit a FOIL [Freedom of Information Law] request.

”Even in the city that doesn’t sleep, New Yorkers deserve some peace and quiet,” Powers said.

“We’re helping make that a reality with the Stop Spreading the Noise Act, a package of bills that cracks down on the frustrating—and harmful—noise pollution found throughout our city. We’re establishing an innovative noise camera program to ticket excessively loud vehicles and reforming the 311 noise complaint process to improve enforcement and transparency,” he said.

According to data on 311 complaints cited by the City Council, residential noise complaints have skyrocketed by an astounding 241 percent since October 2019. NYC’s Health Department further notes that 20 percent of NYC residents claim they are “frequently disturbed by noise at home.”

This all adds up to a damning portrait of what health experts call “noise pollution,” which can have negative long-term health effects. According to National Geographic, these may include “high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress.” They also contribute mightily to hearing loss. One in six adults in NYC reportedly experience “ringing in their ears or hearing loss.”