Resolution in Support of confronting Noise Pollution in Providence and a request to explore Acoustic Cameras and other Mitigation Solutions

(Approved by the Providence City Council by unanimous voice vote on April 1, 2021)


WHEREAS, The City of Providence is a bustling mid-sized city where residents are regularly exposed, against their will, to excessive noise; and

WHEREAS, The Providence Code of Ordinances: Chapter 16 — Offenses And Miscellaneous Provisions Article III. Noise Control includes codified regulations on noise, permissible decibels (dBA), and what is deemed unnecessary, excessive, or offensive noise; and

WHEREAS, Vehicles and motorcycles with modified exhaust systems, over-amplified music from cars, homes, entertainment venues, sirens, highway noise, leaf blowers, illegal fireworks, and recreational vehicles, etc. continue to be a pervasive issue in the city; and

WHEREAS, Noise pollution can lead to health problems for people and wildlife, including significant hearing loss, elevated blood pressure, and heart rate, stress, loss of concentration, weakened mental acuity, cognitive impairment, and loss of sleep, and can also exacerbate conditions such as hyperacusis, tinnitus, and PTSD; and

WHEREAS, Noise pollution can have direct impacts on public health, but also disproportionately
burden and have adverse effects on vulnerable populations and neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, Noise is considered “the new secondhand smoke” and in 2009, the EU set noise guidelines of 40 decibels at night to “protect human health”; and

WHEREAS, Over 40 international cities, including Shenzhen [China], Beijing’s Traffic Management Bureau, and Paris have begun trials, experimented with or installed acoustic cameras or decibel noise-monitoring stations in a bid to cut down on noisy vehicles; and

WHEREAS, Noise pollution is rampant in cities across the country, including in the City of Providence; and

WHEREAS, Dwellings built near urban industrial zones or older homes all across the City may not have the modern infrastructure to block noise; and

WHEREAS, A noisy environment reduces property values, affects opportunities for people already living here, and may deter people from moving or relocating to a city like Providence, which diminishes its appeal; and

WHEREAS, Anti-noise ordinances, legislation, and enforcement is not always effective, and thus additional broad action and reasonable binding enforcement mechanisms in reducing noise pollution is required to protect residents from the negative effects of noise pollution; and

WHEREAS, Providence could become an early United States pioneer by researching, and examining, and potentially piloting or implementing technologies to reduce environmental noise.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Providence City Council respectfully requests that the City Administration commission an independent panel or a consultant to study and develop an implementation plan to address systemic changes to environmental noise.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Providence City Council respectfully requests that City Administration look into enforceable and effective solutions (e.g., acoustic cameras to help enforce noise ordinances, as well as noise-barrier tax incentives, sound detectors to monitor noisy drivers, etc.) and other enforceable / legislative solutions that will help monitor, analyze, and mitigate noise pollution.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Mayor of Providence and the Chief of Policy for the City of Providence.