Last month New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released an audit highlighting the doubling of noise complaints between 2010 and 2015, and the numbers continue to grow, reaching 212,318 complaints in 2016. The same audit revealed a disturbing lack of enforcement arising from poor coordination between the State Liquor Authority and the NYPD.
Noise pollution is much more than an annoyance - it’s a public health issue that can disrupt sleep, affect blood pressure and interfere with children’s ability to learn. We need new policies and strategies to address this growing problem with better coordination, communication, and enforcement.
A major source of noise pollution - one that hits home in our district - is development. The East Side is experiencing major high-rise construction as demonstrated with the recently approved Midtown East rezoning. Beyond the concerns of changing the character of our community, school overcrowding and increased demands on mass transit, the increased levels of noise constitute a serious challenge to our quality of life. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer's January Town Hall revealed contractors working past reasonable hours and allegations of the NYC Department of Buildings rubber stamping work permits and ignoring noise complaints.
Our next Councilmember must take this problem seriously. As Councilwoman I would create an interagency task force to improve communication and coordination among responsible agencies so we can focus on preventative actions, holding code violators accountable, and installing new "no honking" signs near significantly noisy intersections. In addition, I would work to establish a city construction liaison to oversee After Hours Variance Applications and conduct routine job site evaluations.
I would also sponsor a Request for Proposal for city use of downward sirens, which are designed to keep noise at ground level and could revolutionize noise mitigation for New York City. Here in the district, I would work to establish a Community Noise Advisory Group to identify and address community concerns and complaints. Finally, as your City Councilwoman I would partner with the Taxi & Limousine Commission to establish a taxi stand at the Waterside Plaza boat slip so passengers do not disturb residential tenants in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
Reducing noise pollution is vital for our health, our community and our quality of life. We need to demand action by City Hall or we will continue to fall victim to irresponsible developers, unnecessary traffic noise and nightlife concerns.