Legislation and Public Policy

Providence and RI • NortheastNon-Northeast • International • Media coverage

Providence and RI

Noise from a firing range is driving neighbors crazy. Police say they have no money to fix it,” Providence Journal (Nov. 14, 2023)

City of Newport seeks to crack down on noise with help of A.I.,” What’s Up Newport (Nov. 9, 2023)

Here are the noisiest parts of Providence, based on 5,500 noise complaint calls to the police,” Providence Journal (Sept. 7, 2023) — Only 19 citations were issued in response to over 5,000 complaints, including and especially to repeat offenders who generated hundreds of reports.

Gunfire Noise Pollution in Cranston, Rhode Island,” Community Noise Lab (July 6, 2023)

Providence mayor’s way to crack down on loud noise in the city: Give police decibel readers,” Providence Journal (May 30, 2023)

Providence is as loud as Boston, Brown professor says,” Boston Globe (May 4, 2023) — It’s worth noting that Boston is more than 3.5 times larger in population, and more that four times larger in geographic area.

Is gun range too close to schools?Cranston Herald (April 5, 2022) — Like Providence, the city government nextdoor refuses to enforce its own noise laws, in this case against its own police.

Police plan for crackdown on loud motorcycles in North Smithfield,” Northern RI News (Feb. 22, 2023)

‘We Will Not Tolerate This,’ Says Providence Police Chief Following Club Brawl,” GoLocalProv (Sept. 13, 2022). This article about a melee at a notoriously loud Providence restaurant / bar called Mi Sueño, which has routinely violated city sound ordinances for many years, includes the following quote:

“One of the responding officers called the music at Mi Sueno … ‘obnoxiously loud to the point where it most definitely would be heard’ by residents in the surrounding area, adding in ‘no way’ should the club have a permit for an event in its parking lot with the [volume] level of music being played.”

Until 2023, the club was never cited for violating city sound ordinances, despite doing so on a weekly basis for years. And until the 2022 brawl, every entertainment-license renewal request was granted. So, in fact, the Providence Police tolerated it for a very long time.

City Council member Goncalves’ quality-of-life report urges “de-normalizing” noise (July 2022)

Providence City Council amendment to limit leafblower noise and time of use (October 2021)

Providence City Council Resolution on Noise Pollution (April 2021)

Providence Noise Law infosheet (PVD Noise Project, English / Español PDF, Feb. 2021)

Wild place in the city?Providence Journal (Sept. 9, 2019)

“[East Greenwich, RI] Council Hears of Waterfront Noise, Drunks & Parking Woes; Considers Stricter Rules,” East Greenwich News (March 5, 2019) 

The City That Endangers the People It is Supposed to Protect,” Providence Rules blog (March 2018)

For existing Providence noise ordinances (and relevant RI noise statutes), visit our Laws page

Other U.S. cities and states

Northeast

NYC bill would enforce quieter, European-style sirens for emergency vehicles,” New York Post (June 24, 2023)

Roadside Sound Meter and Camera that is Activated by Loud Mufflers Now Sending Notices to Vehicle Owners (February 2022) — Announcement of a noise camera pilot project by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. It has since been expanded.

Playing loud music could soon cost you a ticket in Philly,” WHYY 90.9 FM, Philadelphia (Dec. 7, 2021)

NY State Zero-Emission Lawn and Landscape Equipment Legislation (Oct. 27, 2021) — The proposed bill would require all in-state sales of new lawncare and landscaping equipment such as lawnmowers, leafblowers, and trimmers be zero-emissions (i.e., electric-powered) by 2027

Noise violators could be slapped with $1,000 fine for blaring music, revving engines,” WTXF Channel 29, Philadelphia (June 15, 2021)

Vermont town of Brandon mulls noise ordinance,“ Associated Press (April 3, 2021)

NY State Comptroller: “Silencing Excessive NYC Noise a Major Challenge,” (Jan. 29, 2018) — A press release that accompanied a report (below) finding that although noise complaints, often about the same locations, to NY City’s 311 system near doubled from 200,000 in 2010 to about 384,000 in 2015, few complaints are ever found to be in violation of the city’s noise code.

Morristown [NJ] council clamps down on noise, sidewalk skateboards, and weed in parks,” Morristown Green (Sept. 15, 2021) — Among the targets of a new noise ordinance are barking dogs, unmuffled leafblowers, and booming car stereos

“[NY State] Legislature passes SLEEP Act to ban loud vehicles,” WTEN, Albany, NY (June 20, 2021) — Covers a law that prohibits modifying a motor vehicle (including motorcycle) muffler to increase the sound of its exhaust above prescribed limits, raises the fine for doing so from $150 to $1,000, and requires all police cars in the state to have sound-level meters.

A Guide to New York City’s Noise Code,” New York City Department of Environmental Protection (March 2018)

Noise in New York City Neighborhoods: Assessing Risk in Urban Noise Management,” Office of the New York State Comptroller (January 2018)

Non-Northeast

California’s all-electric shift is ramping up. Here’s what will start vanishing from shelves in January,” San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 2, 2023) — Describes the state’s ban on small, gas-fueled engines.

Amazon noise enforcement proposal raises thorny legal issues,” Fauquier Times, VA (Feb. 1, 2023)

Northern Virginia community grapples with how to handle pickleball noise complaints,” Fox 5, Washington, DC (Jan. 27, 2023)

Proposed legislation would bring ‘noise cameras’ to DC. Here’s how they work.” WUSA Channel 9, Washington, DC (Jan. 26, 2023)

Anchorage is increasing fines for noisy vehicles,” Anchorage Daily News (Dec. 11, 2022)

New noise ordinance goes into effect for Houston,” KHOU Channel 11 (Sept. 6, 2022)

Ssshhhh, says Peachtree City’s new noise ordinance,” The Citizen, Fayetteville, GA (April 11, 2022)

Utah lawmaker works to cut down noise pollution,” KUTV / Salt Lake City (Jan. 21, 2022)

Moab [Utah] residents sound off against OHV noise. Lawmakers listen, advance bill that may silence the vehicles at night.” Salt Lake Tribune (February 2021)

California Is So Tired of Your Car’s Loud Fartcan Exhaust They’ll Now Fine You for It,” The Drive (May 23, 2019)

A Guide to Noise Control in Minnesota,” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (Nov. 2015)

International

Bill to tackle air and noise pollution passed in the [Welsh legislature], supporting a cleaner, healthier and greener future,” Wired Gov, Wales (Nov. 28, 2023)

Judge orders Montreal suburb to compensate residents for excessive traffic noise,” City News Canada (Nov. 3, 2023)

Public housing “Tenant killed himself after landlord failed to resolve repeated noise complaints,” Guardian UK (Nov. 2, 2023) — A subsequent government report cited the housing provider for “severe maladministration.” More details here, and responses here.

Adopting Anti-Sound Pollution Measures Mandatory [for] Durga Puja,“ Outlook, West Bengal, India (Sept. 2022) — Report on Pollution Control Board’s efforts to reduce noise during an annual religious festival.

Hamilton council wants police to blitz ‘toxic masculinity’ muffler noise,” Hamilton Spectator, Ontario, Canada (June 2020)

“ ‘Acoustic cameras’ tested in bid to cut noisy vehicles,” BBC (June 8, 2019)

“[Mayor John] Tory takes aim at noisy motorcycles, cars on Toronto streets,” Toronto Star, Canada (Sept. 3, 2018)

Federal Laws and Policies

Quiet Communities Act of 2023 — A bipartisan bill (H.R. 4892) that would shift responsibility for mitigating aircraft noise near airports from the FAA to the EPA, and restore funding for the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control, which was de-funded by the Reagan administration in 1981.

Highway Traffic Noise Analysis and Abatement Policy and Guidance, U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (Aug. 2017)

For existing U.S. law on noise, visit our Federal Noise Law page


Media Coverage

New England

Another Year of Live Music at Waterford Restaurant Despite Neighbors’ Noise Complaints,” Connecticut Examiner (June 7, 2022)

Boston.com readers are fed up with late-night noise,” Boston.com (June 11, 2021)

East Providence residents claim noise from Providence is so loud, it shakes their homes,” WPRI-12 (June 3, 2021)

Boston Calling fest turned down the volume, as promised, after ‘horrific’ 2017 sound leak,” Cambridge Day (May 2018)

Portsmouth [NH] Up In Arms Over Noise Complaints,” New Hampshire Public Radio (Aug. 28, 2014)

Beyond New England

21-year-old killed when man ‘frustrated’ by noise opens fire into street, CA cops say,” Sacramento Bee (May 4, 2023)

Noise complaints are on the rise in NYC, and they are turning deadly,” New York Daily News (March 28, 2023)

The Apartment Building Next Door Won’t Shut Up!New York Times (Jan. 28, 2023)

Who enforces noise complaints in upstate New York?Albany Times-Union (Oct. 3, 2022)

New York Is a Noisy City. One Man Got Revenge.” New York Times (June 4, 2019)

To Create a Quieter City, They’re Recording the Sounds of New York,” New York Times (Nov. 6, 2016)

International

Popular Spanish destination to make Airbnbs install noise meters,” Express (June 5, 2023)

The growing menace of annoying sounds that affect our health,” Irish Times (March 19, 2023)

What you can do about noise pollution,” Echo Live, Cork, Ireland (Nov. 30, 2022)