SHUT THE HELL UP!
We usually have several items of interest in this section, but this time, we thought we’d dedicate the space to one of the dumbest and most concerning quality-of-life issues – intentional noise. We all understand that noise is necessary for our city to function. Sirens, garbage trucks, construction – these are all things we have learned to live with because they have purpose. On the other hand, souped-up cars, blasting music and unauthorized fireworks are unnecessary. Unfortunately, we have representation at City Hall that doesn’t seem to think that repeatedly losing a good night’s sleep is much of a concern, when it has been for years, citywide.
A LACK OF URGENCY
We all know that the de Blasio administration has been waging a war on cars, and if you have been paying attention to what the mayoral candidates have been saying during this year’s campaign, the leading contenders are likely to not only continue the same policies, but further punish motorists. More streets currently used for transportation will be unavailable to cars and more parking will be taken away. “We need to eliminate car culture!” transportation activists and left leaning politicians scream. “Car culture” is a created phrase used to marginalize working class outer borough residents. Simply owning a car has made car owners public enemy number one in the eyes of these radicals. Well, parking one’s car doesn’t endanger anyone, and is undeniably necessary to foster commerce and transportation.
A DOUBLE STANDARD
However, if you own a car and drive it around outfitted with a device that produces gunfire noises and alarms the public, pimp your ride with gigantic speakers that rattle houses and keep people awake miles away, or just ride around with your car stereo turned up making thumping noises at 4am, you are practically untouchable. None of the anti-“car culture” mouthpieces will call you out and you have carte blanche to carry on with your stupidity because this is simply not seen as important down at City Hall. There are noise ordinances on the books that carry penalties, but we’d need a phalanx of police to be able to enforce them, and the current backward priority is on defunding the force, not expanding it. The mayor’s family sleeps in the quiet comfort of a taxpayer funded mansion, so why would he care that his constituents can’t sleep?
THE REAL “CAR CULTURE”
There are car meetups held regularly every weekend in certain locations, where hundreds of practitioners of noisy one-up-manship show off their sound systems, drink, do stunts and drag race. Technology today is such that these groups can organize and move from place to place quickly, usually within industrial sections or between large parking lots. Often this is happening down by Newtown Creek – on either the Brooklyn or Queens side – yet with the way sound travels it can be heard, rather loudly, all the way over by Juniper Valley Park. Although these are known locations and somewhat predictable events, the NYPD doesn’t have the manpower to prevent or break them up without major pre-planned coordination boroughwide. Crime is up, manpower is down, and the remaining cops must instead tend to emergencies.
Drag racing is not only noisy, but dangerous to others. It used to happen on Maurice Avenue regularly until speed humps were installed. But it’s still happening elsewhere. The day I typed this up, 3 men died in a suspected drag racing accident after they launched their car into Newtown Creek and drowned. Now imagine that they lost control, but instead of hitting the water, they slammed into pedestrians or a family in a car.
BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR
And then there are unauthorized fireworks, which are also not just a noise issue. Every year we hear about at least one fire started by an errant explosive or someone blowing his fingers off or injuring a bystander. As I am typing this, there are what sound like cherry bombs going off outside my home and it’s a random spring day with no holiday to celebrate. These intrusions are no longer limited to July 4th but now happen year-round. Last summer, cancelled authorized fireworks shows led to professional grade explosives being sold to the average consumer and there were endless sleepless nights because of it. Every year, 1 Police Plaza announces that there will be “zero tolerance” for fireworks yet every summer it sounds like a war zone. The noise is also stressful to combat veterans with PTSD, and is a leading cause of pets going missing.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Loud noise is not a frivolous complaint or a joke. It affects sleep, and poor sleep leads to poor health. It should be of paramount concern, but it isn’t to the people that need to enact change. Our local electeds are trying their best, but the push to restore peace and quiet needs to come from the top, and it just isn’t. So, will we live through another summer of hell this year? It sure seems to be shaping up that way. It doesn’t have to be like this but unfortunately quality of life and common sense have been thrown out the window. Until the electorate wises up and elevates someone to the mayoralty with the right priorities, this problem will only continue to get worse. 1991 was 30 years ago. It’s doubtful that anyone who lived through that era in NYC wants to revisit it.
CHOOSE WISELY AT THE POLLS.