PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – City Council is considering changes to Pittsburgh’s noise ordinance.
No longer would police have to carry decibel meters to determine if something is too loud. Instead, they can use their own judgement.
There is a rhythm to city life, a confluence of sounds, a vibrancy that echoes, a vitality that barely pauses, but to some the sounds can be excessive, and up to now cracking down on sound required police to use a decibel meter.
“I think it’s a good idea because if they have to have a meter, they probably don’t always have them with them and they’d have to call in someone who has one to measure it,” says Bob Cowald, of the South Side.
Council President Bruce Kraus says even council district has sound issues that range from construction noise Downtown, large facility noises near newly-converted lofts and late-night sounds on the South Side.
That’s why he says a consolidation of the city’s noise regulations was needed that broadens enforcement beyond decibel meters to the discretion of police and code enforcers.
Kraus offered one example.
“We have a police officer on site, there is amplified music emanating from a vehicle that’s plainly audible from 75 feet, that officer can write a citation for that,” Kraus said.
Folks KDKA talked with say that’s too much discretion.
“One officer may go and say tone it down a little bit, and another may go and you might get a fine,” said Ellen Limback, of the North Side.
“You need some kind of baseline to enforce a citation,” Erill Grimes, of the South Side, said. “Like, if I went to court for my citation and tried to fight it, like what proof is he going to say that I was too loud or not too loud.”
But Kraus says depending on officers to make a judgement call is critical to curbing noise issues. It’s a move he says that is not targeting anyone specifically.
“I like elevating someone’s consciousness,” says Kraus. “We want to make you aware that perhaps you’re just not aware you’re not being a good neighbor or we’re here to tell you how you can be a good neighbor.”
Violators of the new noise regulation legislation would continue to receive a $300 fine per offense and up to 30 days in jail if payment is refused.
Offenders of vehicle noise regulation are penalized with a $150 fine for a first offense and a mandatory $300 fine for a second offense, as well as booting of the vehicle. Offenders may also be subject to misdemeanor criminal charges.