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“it’s basically like listening to the same ten trombone blasts on repeat over the entire workday”

by Prince Of Petworth July 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm 51 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Matt Steenhoek

“Dear PoPville,

I’m writing for advice about excessive noise levels that DC police have repeatedly refused to address.

Each day (every day) on the corner of 15th and Penn a band with a full drum kid, three trombones, and, occasionally, amplified vocals plays for about 6 hours. It’s a commercial district where DC law imposes a 65 decibel noise limit (DC Rule 20-2701.1) which applies to “Noise resulting from musical instruments, loud speakers,” and other sources (20-2800.1).

The trombones and drums clearly exceed these decibel limits (trombones produce sound between 85-115 decibels and drums are even louder). (In addition to being extremely loud, the band only plays four musical sequences, so it’s basically like listening to the same ten trombone blasts on repeat over the entire workday.)

Hundreds of people in my offices and in the five surrounding large office buildings have called in noise complaints over the last several months. (See the Washingtonian article–from May–mocking one office for their complaints.)

DC police regularly respond that they are unable to measure the decibel levels of the band and hence cannot tell whether they are breaking the law. In essence, they shrug their shoulders and say they won’t do anything about it.

We are all sympathetic for the guys in the band, and understand where people are coming from when they ask what the big deal is. But it is exceptionally distracting and people are very frustrated with the band itself and with the response of the city and the police. The police are basically allowing four individual street vendors to break the noise ordinance at the expense of several hundred workers.

Thus far, neither the city nor the police (nor direct outreach to the band itself) have helped. Any advice?”


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