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49° Good Morning
OpinionColumnistsRachel Figueroa-Levin

It's a noisy city, but there are ways to cope

Construction continues at the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project,

Construction continues at the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, which is developing Manhattan's far West Side along the Hudson River in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

New York is noisy. There's loud traffic, sirens, construction banging, loud bars and the summer's almost nightly guessing game of "Are those fireworks or gunshots?"

The city that never sleeps is also the city that never shuts up. New Yorkers reported more than 250,000 noise complaints to the 311 hotline last year, making it the city's top quality-of-life issue.

Which raises the question of whether we have a right to a reasonable level of quiet. Under city code, we do: There are acceptable levels in residential areas enforced by the NYPD and environmental protection staff.

But if you think the rules -- some of the strictest in the nation -- don't dampen noise pollution enough, use earplugs. If it can't be solved with earplugs and the car parked partly on the sidewalk is blasting music at 3 a.m., nonstop dial 311.

You can and should complain about nightclubs blasting music at 2 a.m. You shouldn't knock on someone's door because a toddler is having a tantrum. I have a neighbor who complains about my toddler screaming for 10 minutes at 1 in the afternoon. My neighbor is better suited to monastery living where silence is treasured and required.

But the rest of us face the challenge of tolerating noise when offenders do not care about it. I like loud music -- you might, too -- but if it's late and your upstairs neighbors can't sleep, turn it down, get some headphones or invite them to the party.

And if you work nights and can't stand your upstairs neighbors' child running around in the middle of the day, get some earplugs. Just because you're nocturnal doesn't mean the rest of the world is.

And if you own a nightclub, obey anti-noise laws and be considerate of your neighbors. And neighbors, these clubs bring a lot of money to the local economy, so work with them to find solutions that keep everyone well-rested and in business.

If you belong to one of the city's car-music clubs and have a vehicle with speakers bigger than its engine, move where people enjoy that kind of thing. And find a good ear doctor, because you're going to be deaf by the end of the decade.

Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican and @ElBloombito.


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