“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the city to prohibit unnecessary, excessive, and offensive noise from all sources subject to its police power, for the sole purpose of securing and promoting the public health, comfort, safety, and welfare of the citizenry.”— Providence municipal code (Chapter 16, Article III)
Like every other city in the world, Providence cannot control the weather. But like many cities, it expends great effort to try mitigate the effects that weather can have on its residents — from clearing snow from roads in the winter, to planting trees to provide shade from dangerous heat in the summer.
At the same time, the city government largely ignores the sources and effects of noise — over which it actually has a lot of control — on those same residents. Despite the official declaration above, Providence’s mayor and City Council mostly leave noise issues to the police department, which generally only responds to incidental complaints.
Given that residents in most Providence neighborhoods have complained about noise for years — with little tangible effect — it’s clear the city government can and must do more to address the prevalence of excessive, unnecessary, and unhealthy noise, as other municipalities around the world routinely do. This includes:
- Rejecting the noise-denialist trope that “cities are noisy,” which simply perpetuates a self-justifying and dysfunctional status quo
- Developing an official, city-wide policy to reduce noise levels
- Implementing common-sense policy proposals to address specific sources of noise, including modified vehicle exhausts, commercial venues, fireworks, and leafblowers