From the Forum – Noise from New Establishments

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Noise from Blind Whino:

“I’m wondering if anyone has advice about handling noise from new establishments. I live in SW, close (but not too close!) to Blind Whino, an art gallery that opened last fall. I live next to the highway, so it’s not as if I have high standards when it comes to ambient noise. The noise coming from the gallery between 10 pm – 2 am this week, since the spring reopening, has been unbearable. Patrons screaming and shouting, music that makes my window panes vibrate, etc. What recourse do neighbors have in dealing with noise from establishments like this?

The police are aware of the gallery and are often parked directly outside, but haven’t seemed to control the noise much. I see people with beers around the gallery, so they probably have a license from ABRA, which might be another way to go about it.”

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14 Comment

  • Good question. Does anyone know the rule for noise complaints in general? I live in a row house so I’m not naive enough to know there will be some noise, but several times the bass has been so loud it can be heard over the TV (after 10pm). In another situation, the house across the street has been yelling loudly and/or playing bass from a car so loud we can hear it from inside our house. In this case, it was in the late afternoon. My question is whether or not this is a violation or some sort. Secondly, what is the best way to report it? DC police Text? 911?

    • I used to live in Bloomingdale and the house across from mine would have really parties with really loud music and a lot of yelling/screaming. I called 311 and they said to call 911 for noise complaints. I did it a few times but calling 911 for a noise complaint seemed excessive. It’s not an “emergency.” Wish there was a non-emergency line (in addition to 311) to call for stuff like that.

  • Whoops! I’m the OP. I meant to update this post – turns out, the best approach is simply contacting the manager. He got back to me the next morning with a sincere apology and a plan to mitigate any noise in the future. I was so, so impressed- he took the concerns seriously and explained why there was so much noise that night (they were hosting incoming Howard students and their transportation was late, which is why there were so many people being loud outside the gallery so late). In the future, there’s going to be a security guard, and people will not be permitted to be in the patio area after 10 pm and all events will end before midnight.

    • awesome! Model for being a good neighbor, assuming of course they follow through. Glad you got it resolved!

    • wait and see what happens the next time before you strain yourself patting him on the back

      the art gallery designation is bs for some of these places. they rent the space and get daily class f or g liquor licenses. there’s minimal oversight, unlike what you’d find from an established license holder with skin in the game. it’s also a rotating cast of characters, some of whom may respect the neighbors and others who won’t.

      • True enough. But lately ABRA has been willing to clamp down on those spaces. For a while Stroga in Adams Morgan was a major problem for neighbors. They were essentially acting as a club every weekend by renting out the space to promoters, who in turn would use caterers with liquor licenses. After a number of complaints and a totally deaf ear on the part of Stroga’s owners, ABRA stepped in and now Stroga is limited to a few events per year.

      • I’ve actually been to a few Blind Whino events and they actually do sponsor art events, so my personal opinion is their art gallery designation is legit. A few weeks ago they had “Art without Borders” – all art purchase proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders. The art they show rotates pretty regularly too.

        Glad to hear they’ve been responsive regarding noise though.

  • Just go join the party

  • I share a wall with El Atardecer in Columbia Heights, and even after fighting for weeks to obtain a Voluntary Agreement, which states that they are not allowed to make noise that can be heard through the walls or recycle after 10pm, I can heard the music loudly with the bass vibrating the floors and walls almost every night until 2am and am often woken up by glass bottles breaking during recycling at 3am. I have called ABRA and other neighbors have called the police, but they show up and say there isn’t anything they can do. The only advice they offered is that next time I allow them to enter into my apartment (sounds like fun in the middle of the night) where they will record the dB (anything over 60dB is unacceptable I believe), but it’s likely they will only receive a written warning or small fee. It’s very frustrating that even with a VA, there is no way to enforce the rules we all signed on. I am moving out of my apartment soon, its the only solution I’ve found. Good luck!

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