New Yorkers are making a lot of noise about how loud the city is getting.
In addition to an epic increase in construction noise during the summer, many New Yorkers are beset by the sounds of people having a much better time than they are, partying while they’re trying to sleep or concentrate on something other than a Fetty Wap or Taylor Swift song.
Noise complaints have been rising steadily over at least the last two years, with summers — the season of both al fresco fetes and open windows — especially fractious. In July, 17,962 complaints about residential noise and 7,651 complaints about noise emanating from the street or sidewalk, were lodged to 311. That’s a decided uptick from January, which registered 15,343 complaints concerning residential noise and only 960 coming from the street.
In July 2013, 11,024 complaints about residential noise and 2,929 beefs about street and sidewalk noise were made to 311.
“It’s really only obnoxious in the summer, when everyone is partying outside,” said Hell’s Kitchen fitness instructor Abby Hasko, 42, who lives above a popular Ninth Avenue restaurant where people line up outside and spill out “yelling, because everyone has been drinking.”
New Yorkers in dense areas are increasingly bombarded from above as well as below.
Dino Velovic, a property manager for 523 E. 83rd St., recently sent a letter to tenants notifying them that the conscription of the roof into a party space (he also noticed furniture on the roof) was a lease violation, noting “the property next door is seeking legal action if the issue is not resolved,” due to the noise.
You can screen a tenant’s credit history “but you can’t necessarily screen for their character,” Velovic told amNewYork, adding that the problem “is in the process of being resolved.”
Real estate developer Ben Shaoul reportedly closed his fancy rooftop “amenity space” at his luxury development Bloom 62 in the East Village last month after revelers trashed the place.
The racket coming from that roof “was horrendous,” said Community Board 3 district manager Susan Stetzer, who said Shaoul “has a long history of not being a good neighbor.”
Music and noise emanated from 62 Ave. B, “afternoon and night,” and speakers on the roof, amplified things far beyond the premises, Stetzer said. Shaoul did not respond to a request for comment.
Long-time residents are irked, explained East Village writer Dale Goodson, 62, because developers have deliberately marketed their neighborhood as “a party and destination area,” attracting young transient people who don’t consider the impact of their behavior on others.
“They have the right to be disruptive and we residents have no rights below the (legal noise) thresholds … We have to close our windows. We have to turn on the A.C. to mask the noise and restrict our lifestyle,” he said.
Isn’t music and laughter the heartbeat of a city summer?
Yes, but longtime New Yorkers and gadflies say a number of trends have conspired to profit party people at the expense of peace seekers. Laws prohibiting smoking have driven more drinkers outdoors. Ever-growing invasions of tourists (56.4 million last year) who do not have to get up early to afford NYC housing costs also pump up the volume.
An explosion of luxury residences offering rooftop “event spaces” and balconies as well as the construction of more hotels — many of which sport rooftop and outdoor bars — also add to the din. “What is new is all these new luxury and market rate residences” with outdoor spaces that often become party magnets, said Stetzer.
Audio technology can quickly convert any roof or balcony into a raging party with “club-level sound,” Goodson added.
Airbnb rentals and subletting also play a role in turning NYC into a Spring Break-like setting, added Michelle Maratto, a partner in the real estate litigation firm Itkowitz PLLC.
As neighborhood hardware stores, shoe repair stores, laundromats, groceries and bodegas disappear, they are often replaced by more profitable — and noisier — bars and restaurants. These, Stetzer noted, often push “boozy brunches — boozy this and boozy that,” in an attempt to stay amid sky-high rent and taxes. More restaurants are also seeking to put tables outdoors and on sidewalks, she said.
“In Brooklyn, there are a lot more restaurants, and a lot of those restaurants are directly under people’s (bedroom) windows,” said Maratto, who organized Quality of Life Brooklyn in 2011 in response to “the rising noise level from new businesses and some old businesses on Atlantic and Third Avenues.”
The Boerum Hill effort was arduous but largely successful, said Maratto, because residents convinced restaurateurs “the 90 people we represent are your customers.” She encourages other New Yorkers similarly plagued to organize around the issue.
Ally Lindsay, 27, of Bushwick, sees an easy potential solution: Bars ought to move people inside by 10 p.m.
“I want to be outside! I don’t want to be in the air conditioning,” she said. Enjoying a drink under the stars, “is part of summer.”