Gregory Bull  /  AP file
A Mister Softee truck sells ice cream in Times Square, New York, last August following the blackout that left millions of people without electricity.
msnbc.com
updated 6/8/2004 12:12:36 PM ET 2004-06-08T16:12:36

It’s great that New York is the city that never sleeps, but the reason should not be incessant pounding, blaring and buzzing, the mayor says. But his proposals to turn down the volume has raised some noisy objections.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday proposed to rewrite the city’s noise regulations to deal with the leading complaint about the city’s quality of life.

“Noise disturbs our sleep, prevents people from enjoying their time off from work and too often leads to altercations,” he said.

Bloomberg’s proposed changes cover noise makers from pile drivers to air conditioners — as well as anything else deemed by police to be too “plainly audible.”

The changes would mandate noise management plans at construction sites, and require portable sound barriers and noise jackets for jackhammers and other loud tools.

Bloomberg said he also wants to make 45 decibels the upper limit for all the noise coming from any new building’s air conditioners — a limit that falls between a whisper, about 20 decibels, and busy street traffic, about 70 decibels.

But critics are up in arms about one proposal -- a regulation that would ban "Mister Softee" ice cream trucks from playing their jingle beginning Jan. 1, 2006.

No meters needed
Current law demands only that no single unit exceed 45 decibels. Existing buildings that are over that level would have to drop 5 decibels.

Another revision would allow police officers to write noise tickets without using meters to measure sound. Instead, they would rely on a “plainly audible” standard.

The changes would also prohibit any sound that increases the ambient noise inside a residence by 10 decibels during the day and 7 decibels at night and would cover everything from barking dogs to car alarms to ice cream trucks.

And Bloomberg made a point of noting that the city receives a large number of complaints about Mister Softee, which operates 250 trucks in the city.

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But a spokesman for the company said the regulations would seriously hurt business.

"There are a small percentage of operators who are not considerate -- they play their song too loud and too long. On the other hand, there is a very vocal minority of residents who object to any kind of sound," Mister Softee Vice President James Conway told the New York Post.

The City Council will hold hearings on the noise legislation this summer.

This is Bloomberg’s second attempt to fight noise in the city. In October 2002, the mayor announced a crackdown on loud bars, cars and motorcycles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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