This website is
a call to action
to Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Councilman
Evans, Director of the Alcoholic
Beverage Regulation Administration Fred Moosally, the DCRA
of Police, and ANC commissioners. DC
residents who have been damaged for years
by amplified music coming from nearby restaurants, taverns, and
nightclubs want DC’s Noise Ordinance to be enforced.
- Big woofers
- Open air
- Pounding music
- Lost sleep
- No enforcement
in Club Central (south of Dupont Circle)
have open air
lounges / roofdecks to play "dance music" at hearing-damage sound
levels with dominance of highly amplified low frequency [bass from
big woofers] music that travels and penetrates 130 apartments in two
condominium buildings, and another 60 in a new condo building even
closer tt he music. . The World Health Orgnization finds that
such music disturbs sleep to the extent of damaging health.
noise law blindly rolls all the possible sounds
legal maximum allowed sound level - 60 decibels of normal conversation
- but then fails to enforce even that law.
want to solve one big
problem with alcohol businesses:
Aug 25, 2018. DCCA (Dupont Circle Citizens Association)
protested Duke’s Grocery, 1513 17th Street NW, application to break
the long-standing ANC2B 17th Street sidewalk café closing policy. Duke's
applied for one additional hour of service each day to their
current closing times: 10 pm weekdays and midnight Friday and
Saturday. The ANC2B supported the application 5 to 2 despite
strong counter-testimony by DCCA President Robin Diener and former DCCA
President and ANC Commissioner Rob Halligan and others. At the
ABC protest hearing July 11, 2018 the ANC testified its support for
Duke's. Witnesses Robin Diener, ANC2B06 Commissioner Nick
Delledonne, former ANC Commissioners Phil Carney and Abigail Nichols as
well as neighbor representatives Caroline Mindel and Allen Greenberg
presented a strong case of probable noise disturbance of the neighbors'
legal right to peace, order, and quiet. We asked the ABC
Board to deny the application in their decision by the end of November.
In support of the case Abigail Nichols for DCCA submitted a “Findings of
Fact and Conclusions of Law” recommendation. Read the
complete argument .
May 16, 2018. The ABC Board fined a tavern for allowing loud music
to escape from the business in violation of the Settlement
Agreement. The violation was discovered by two ABRA investigators
"monitoring" the street. A simple open and shut case as described
in the Board Order.
But ABRA has yet to investigate and punish nightclubs in Club Central
that clearly violate both their Settlement Agreement and a Board Order
at one club despite at least forty resident complaints of such
April 11, 2018. ANC2B voted 5-2 for more noise on 17th
St by expanding its policy of midnight closings for outdoor alcohol
sevice near residents. The applicant Duke's Grocery argued that
it was foregoing business
as customers moved somewhere else, although who knows where, and that
it had a perfect record of no AMRA noise violations as every alcohol
business also has no ABRA violations in a no-enforcement ABRA
regime. But although ANC2B will not protest the license
expansion, the DCCA is protesting and can discover and present witness
residents who are already disturbed by the present midnight service.
Feb 28, 2018. The ABC Board approved an unsoundproofed outdoor
patio for the Power nightclub with noise control conditions: capping
the maximum number of people in summer garden at 60, closing the summer
garden at 11 :00 p.m., and barring amplified sounds outside the
premises to prevent the creation of noise disturbances from large
crowds and amplified sounds that
have the potential to disturb residents during traditional sleeping
hours late at night. In re T.L., 996 A.2d 805, 812-13 (D.C. 2010)
(saying the government has a right to prevent noise so unreasonably
loud that it " ... unreasonably intrudes on the privacy of a captive audience or so loud
and continued as to offend a reasonable person of common
sensibilities and disrupt the reasonable conduct of basic nighttime activities such
as sleep"). Read the Board Order 2018-076 .
Jan 31, 2018. Now that's quiet! Big Bear Cafe can
have a rooftop outdoor seating IFF (1) close at
10 PM; (2) maximum 45 people; (3) no
amplified sounds generated on the rooftop; ( 4) install and
maintain soundproof walls with soundproofing materials on all
sides directly facing residents; (5) construct and maintain a
hallway on the second floor to mitigate sound. We know a
dozen other rooftop businesses that need the same protection for
neighbors. On the other hand, if ABRA enforcement keeps its
long-practiced ears-off policies, the neighbors will suffer noise
many other such neighbors. Read Board
Dec 1, 2017. ANC2B default, failed to show up for Roll Call to
standing to protest the license for Heist, a nightclub in Club Central
although with no outdoor patio, and which politely keeps its street
door shut on Jefferson Place.
Nov 29, 2017. ABC Board restricted outdoor operation of the
Beer Garden Tavern to 11 PM and midnight because the Board finds it appropriate
Dacha's occupancy and hours in order to prevent the overcrowding of
nearby sidewalks and discourage patrons from walking on S Street, N.W.,
very late into the night. which said nothing about
sleep-disturbing music except for noting that the Noise laws
apply. See the Board
Sep 27, 2017. ANC
Board stiffed the neighbors. After discussions with the
license applicants for City Tap House
restaurant and the freshman ANC2B05 Commissioner, ANC2B eased their
public space use criteria and executed a settlement agreemment with the
applicant. With no chance for the neighbors to hold out for
tighter restrictions at a ABC Board Hearing if necessary. Thus
new business-favored power of the ANC to override neighbor protests
halted the neighbors' protest. Then the neighbors, who had
contingent standing, were granted a chance to address the ABC Board in
an attempt to recover their standing and object to the ANC's hasty
deal. To strengthen the story, the CEO of Tabard Inn, whose
had signed the protest petition,
appeared as the final needed protestant as the controller of the GM. No
dice. After a lively debate with the CEO explaining how
organization and control works,
the Board decided that she was not qualified to appear for the actual
petition signer (who was needed to run the hotel), and that thus the
protesters had no standing. And thus the ANC agreemnt is the final
answer. The idea of a relaxed style hearing was abandoned in
service to looser terms for the applicant and less work for the Board.
The biz squad's influence on the DC Council paid offin a new law that
curtailed a source of protest.
Aug 5, 2017. More restaurants morphing into bars and
a recent DC Policy Center report, “As D.C. Nightlife Grows, It’s
Becoming More of a Bar Town,” senior fellow Kate Rabinowitz details the
dominance of bar licenses as a share of the huge increase in new liquor
licenses issued. The city’s population grew by over 100,000 during the
same period. ... "Liquor licenses for bars
percent, and restaurants grew 37 percent Multi-activity restaurants are
increasingly commonplace and extremely popular. Big battles are still
fought over those permits and nightclubs are reflexive targets for the
persisting gaggles of objectors. .... As a result of industry advocacy
and public support for licensing reforms over the past 15 years, the
efforts of long-notorious and now less-powerful small anti-nightlife
“citizens groups” to push for a licensing system that strictly defines
venue types and restricts allowable activities have largely
.... Attempts to restrict
restaurants as places to sit and dine, bars as separate spaces for
drinking, and nightclubs for what some seem to view as post-sundown
halls of hedonism for dancing and entertainment did not succeed.
[Mike Lee] Which is why each restaurant license with entertainment
needs restrictions in its license regarding sound disturbance
generation in the neigborhoods.
Dec 14, 2016. The ABC Board revised its ruling on a
protest against Chi-Cha Lounge after the Appeals Court sent
case back. Upon
reconsideration, the Board finds that the placement of
speakers in the portion of the establishment that lacks soundproofing
is causing noise issues in Apartment 101. Therefore, the Board
conditions renewal on the Applicant keeping the speakers away from any
walls shared by the business and Apartment 101. Reminder:
protestant's complaint had been originally dismissed because the
applicant had installed commercial level soundproofing. Note a
continuing dilemma for sound complaints. [Witness] Andrew Payne
indicated that he took
readings around the establishment. The record does not indicate
Payne has any particular expertise
in audio engineering or whether the equipment he used was appropriately
calibrated; therefore, the Board does not credit the sound readings
recorded by Mr. Payne. Suggestion: if you have
bar nearby, don't bother with dB readings. Note
how much you think the music is louder than ordinary conversation which
the external noise standard and how much it disturbs your and your
Oct 26, 2016. Decades gets a stipulated license [OK
before full approval] after agreeing with the neighbors [Settlement
Agreement] to contain all music that's louder than a conversation, even
on the roof deck which was the source of Midtown's fatal restrictions
by the ABC Board.
Sep 19, 2016. A group of more than five protestants
a license protest against Decades, 1219 Connecticut Ave, a nightclub
applying to occupy the premises abandoned by Midtown when its license
was restricted to midnight operation of its outdoor
facilities. The applicant has previously lost a
protest by residents of the Presidential condominium against Barcode
(17th St & L Streets).
The group was granted standing to protest in the roll call hearing
where the applicant (or lawyer) did not appear (and therefore had the
application dismissed, with opportunity to request re-consideration.)
Sept 14, 2016. The case against Chi-Cha Lounge was re-opened
the Appeals Court because the Board ha[s]
not come to grips with evidence that the applicant, through its audio
engineer Michael Reed, had installed soundproofing in only
rear section of the Lounge, not in the front of the establishment,
which is the area beneath the apartment owned (and leased to successive
renters) by" the Protestant.
The complaint had been
dismissed because the applicant had installed commercial level
August 15. The Council Committee the oversees ABRA
chairs when Vincent Orange resigned from the Council to accept the
position of head of the DC Chamber of Commerce. That means a education
of the new chair in thestruggle to contain late night noise in the Club
Central area of Dupont Circle.
Jun 15. Ye
shall not noise.
The ABC Board ordered specific and severe conditions on Chaplin
Restaurant's license. The
conditions approval of the entertainment endorsement on the following
conditions in order
minimize potential 1 disturbances: (1) the establishment's
entertainment hours shall end at 1:00 a.m., daily; (2) no entertainment is
on the sidewalk cafe; (3) no entertainment or amplified music is
permitted on the first floor of the establishment; (4) disc jockeys (DJ
s) are not authorized; (5) the establishment's doors and windows must
be closed whenever entertainment is provided; except the
be opened for normal ingress and
egress; and (6) no amplified music shall be heard from outside
time ANC6E stepped up to protect its residents, and argud that although
the applicant has no bad track recod on noise and has no present
intention for noisy outdoor entertainment, the neighborhood has many
potential noise makers, and that a marker needs to be laid. Such an
argument carries "great weight" when made by an ANC, more weight than a
group of five woud be accorded. As a result, residents with noise
worries and complaints should insist that their ANC do its neighborhood
duty. ANC has no duty to promote DC tax revenue collection from noisy
the Board Order.
June 2. Nightclub
The ABC Board granted a protest by ANC6A of Touche tavern in the H
Street NE corridor by banning outdoor amplified music from 10 PM to 9
AM, and closing the outdoor patio at 11PM on weekdays and midnight on
weekends. The protestant was the ANC, without a separate protest by a
group of five or more perturbed residents. Six residents and two ANC
Commissioners testified about the long-standing disturbing noise from
the tavern's roof. The ruling is a follow-on to its
warning to operators in the ruling against Dupont Circle's Midtown
club. Read the Board
you are disturbed
by loud music from alcohol serving businesses, the triennial renewal
period happens September 30. Watch for a big placard on the business
front with the protest period and deadline for protesting.
Contact your ANC whose mission is to protect the neighborhood [ANC6A
seems particularly devoted to that task] and/or get up a group of at
least five concerned and committed residents and fikle a protest for
peace, order, and quiet.
Feb 29. Borderstan
reports that Midtown looks like closing
- movers seen
removing the furniture, an employee
blurting out that it's over; no one answering the phone; website
no future events. But still conflicting info and Borderstan the only
public source. Meanwhile
owner Rehman, who also owns Dirty Martini, has a financial challenge
over a court-ordered payment that he did not pay and US marshals
seized DM's license. Stay tuned for developments.Whether another club
tries to move in will depend on the business's view of market
saturation and the need for outdoor music.
Feb 29. ABRA oversight hearing before Councilman Orange. Few
kindred noise activists but a crowd complaining about DCRA.
Nelson and Sarah Peck (in absentia but present in spirit) testified
that we are winning with the ABC
Board but getting nowhere with the Council. ABRA
Director Moosally seems to be getting the message as he pithily
"you guys are 3 and 0 with the Board". Our position is that it's time
for the many
legislative and executive actors to protect residents'
Committee members Nadeau and Allen had no comment or question as they
keep the ABRA proposed "plainly audible" standard bottled up in
committee. We did say that same situation happened when the District
raised the drinking age and ended smoking inside. That the alcohol
businesses adjusted after each new restriction and would do so again.
It's only a relatively few clubs (and pseudo-clubs) that play loud
outdoor music. Read
Feb 17, 2016. Midtown
silenced. A step forward in stifling Dupont Club Central
nightlife music in the ABC Board's Order that Midtown club shut its
outdoor operation after 11 PM on weeknights and midnight
otherwise. In the order the Board explicitly recognized that
residents are being assaulted with unwelcome music by the several
clubs. But it ignored the residents' testimony that Dirty Martini, with
the same owner as Midtown, was out of control in making noise that
violated a Board Order, its settlement agreement, and the noise
disturbance law. It also ignored that its own ABRA
enforcement arm is part of the problem despite residents' testimony
that ABRA was issuing no violations and did issue a dishonest report to
the residents on its disposition of a list of 31 complaints over
several months from the residents' building. This order makes
three decsions against three clubs for noisy music as the residents
have only one-by-one license protest as a vehicle for action.
Unless the Board is quietly and separately pursuing Dirty Martini, the
owner gets a pass to continue flagrantly violating the noise
restrictions. All of which means that the only serious relief for the
residents must be political from the Council that lives in fear of
disapproval by the multitude of businesses that contribute tons of
sales tax revenue from alcohol.
The Board did give a sort of warning notice to the other Dupont
Ursula K. Le Guin wrote that
"the eyes can choose where to look. But the ears can't choose where to
listen." Nowhere is this truer than Dupont Circle, where
residents, from the comfort of their own bedrooms, often have no choice
but to listen to a barrage of late night music emanating from local
nightclubs and taverns. [L]icensed establishments in Dupont
Circle and beyond must recognize that they have an obligation to ensure
that late night music played on their property does not emanate
hundreds of feet away from
their premises and into nearby homes. If licensed establishments fail
to meet this obligation, then they risk ending up like Midtown, and
losing important late night privileges.
But until ABRA starts issuing penalties for such noise, the Order
has only entertainment value and source of income for the lawyers. As
of a conversation yesterday, the ABRA Director has shown no indications
of any special
attention to Club Central noise. Read the Board Order
Nov 11. We have company, including Georgetown, in fighting
for sleep against business's claims of the priority right to profits
however they choose. The
Federal Aviation Administration is redrawing the paths flights follow
as it switches from ground-based to satellite navigation dubbed
NextGen. Some communities say they weren’t fully warned about the new
flight paths, and now neighborhoods that never had much airport noise
are getting bombarded. Opposition groups from Washington, D.C.’s
Georgetown neighborhood to Silicon Valley are blitzing airports with
hundreds of thousands of noise complaints and a few lawsuits to stop
[Wall Street Journal, Nov 12, 2015]. Hello,
Evans who has resisted our calls for support in the nightlife noise
Oct 27. Borderstan (area around 14th & U St) is back with new
editors. Their early entry in the noise issue was a one-sided
piece for the clubs, pushing the Mark Lee line that unhappy residents
should shut up and move. That drew invective from some
who rightly expect a quiet bedroom - no matter where they live with
respect to nightclub music. The editors need some advice that
"fair and balanced" isn't just Fox News doublespeak.
October 26 Hearing
Oct 26. Confrontation at
A public hearing on nightlife noise pitted 17 residents and
representatives against 40 business owners, workers, and associations
over a proposed new law for controlling late night music from
nightclubs. The residents prefer the new law that would use a
audible" standard in place of noise meters, and would close outdoor
music venues after midnight. Residents and ANC Commissioners and
citizen associations testified from Wards 1, 2,
4, 5, and 6. Chairman Orange and Committee Member Nadeau
recognized the need for both quiet homes and vibrant nightlife business
(which bring in a ton of tax money) and wondered how to satisfy both
simultaneously. Residents first focused on ABRA's lack of enforcement
and called for ABRA transparency and accountability (see Carl Nelson's
The businesses took their lead from the
business associations (restaurants, nightlife hospitality,
and live performance) who abhorred the proposed midnight closings of
music venues and forecast a near collapse of DC finances from loss of
tax revenue. And with probably no understanding of the problems with
noise meters in nightlife, they fought the prospect of arbitrary
of inexpert investigators on "plainly audible". It's the
for a golden age that never was, which to them had the lovely advantage
of producing almost no noise violations anywhere in the District. Their
inspiration leader was Mark Lee, weekly
columnist in The Blade
new head of the newly formed DC
Nightlife Hospitality Association, with an appeal to a half-true vision
of noise meter enforcement. Lee claimed hospitality as the
largest private sector generator of DC tax revenue at $300M a
year, called for meters, not judges, because of a need for data (but no
recognition of actual meter problems), a true statement that the Noise
Force found very few violations (but no recognition as to how
picture could be), and railed against a few unrepresentative
residents "never satisfied until the city rolls up the
sidewalks". (Anyone who ever tried to slip noise
readings past the ABC Board knows they are nearly impossible evidence
The Restaurant Association's lawyer sounded one of his favorite themes
that people shouldn't live near entertainment and have a right to quiet
sleep. Some recognized the true problem - lack of
enforcement - which would
not be automatically solved by new laws. Naturally, they would rather
keep the old
law that impedes enforcement than a new law that might ease
of the residents' half of the hearing by Andrew
Giambrone of City Paper
Next step, political work by Orange to find some scheme not abhorrent
to either side, and, we hope, some way to build a fire under ABRA to
plug the enforcement hole. Then the aggrieved residents will
to do some connecting to their Council representatives before any new
law goes anywhere. On that score, the busineses are willing to spend
more money than the residents on persuading Council Members. But since
Orange is a lawmaker, not a law enforcer, enforcement pressure will
have to be pushed at the Mayor and the ABC Board.
Oct 21. Finally, a long postponed protest hearing on renewing
the license for Midtown nightclub. Midtown insisted on a
straightforward review of the club's operations, while the resident
protestants maintained that the owner should be denied operation
because of his noise violations at a nearby club Dirty
The legal and relevance battle raged for five hours centered on noise
from both Midtown and Dirty Martini. Midtown focused on the
acoustical re-construction of its roofdeck; the protestants focused on
the noise violations (unnoticed by ABRA for at least a year and a half)
at Dirty Martini and one clearly heard violation by Midtown. The
protestants also noted flawed enforcement in that ABRA found no
violations in 31 different complaints over a year an a half by
residents from the Palladium condominium. And recorded merely No
Violation even though ABRA must have not examined some of the
complaints at all. The Board showed that they understood the multiple
noise generator world of Club Central while searching for a route to a
voluntary compromise between the parties. The protestants
at dealing with the owner on the basis of his not honoring to either
the DC noise law nor his Voluntary Agreement nor the 2014 Board Order
that he not disturb the residents. A Board ruling might
Oct 14, 15. news story Dupont Current on Oct 26 hearing on
neproposed Alcohol Regulation Bill.
Sep 21. Decision deferred. Committee Chair Orange decided
that the new ABRA-recommended bill has enough questions that it needs a
public hearing, set for
before the committee is ready to vote on its acceptance. He did say
that the Restaurant Association objects to the bill's provisions; we
also know that the Live Performance Coalition opposes it.
Although we see resident sleep as an established right in DC law, the
businesses prefer the liberty to attract customers however they choose
for purely profit considerations. The committee members
Sep 18, 2015. New Noise
Committee Chair Orange released a new noise bill Nightlife
headed into committee markup Sep 21. It adopts the ABRA recommendations
of the July 9 hearing and states as its objectives:
establish a new plainly audible noise
standard with specific measurement requirements for on-premises
retailers in the District of Columbia. To
establish that an ABRA investigator can verify a noise
under Title 25 of the D.C. Code without entering a District resident’s
provide noise protections for District residents living in commercial
addition to preserving noise protections for residents living in
areas. To prohibit entertainment or playing recorded music on an
outdoor summer garden or sidewalk café after midnight during any day of
To get it out of committee, Orange needs at least two votes of other
members who are from Wards 1 (Nadeau), 6 (Allen), 4 (Todd), and at
large (Silverman) who need to be convinced by Monday, Sep 21.
Once out of committee it will go before the Council for passage into
law where it will need at least seven votes.
The bill improves present noise law in that it makes it easier for
to locate and cite violators, a task that ABRA has been doing poorly
since outdoor music became the nightclub rage. New is a standard of
plainly audible within 50 feet at night, and no outside music at all
after midnight. The businesses want looser restrictions, of course,
towards anything goes. They don't sleep near the clubs.
test of its success will be whether ABRA actually enforces it to fix
the problem that led to our coalition's birth. This bill has
gotten this far because Committee Chair Orange has heard our repeated
testimony and has seen and heard the Club Central din at midnight.
New Noise Law Hearing July 9
Councilman Vincent Orange held a Committee hearing on his
noise bill Nightlife
Regulation Amendment Act of 2015.
Testimony by all interested parties: the DC enforcement
the aggrieved citizens, and the alcohol businesses and their
lawyers. ABRA Director Moosally changed the expected tone by
opening with a greatly improved enforcement scheme for actually
detecting and punishing the violations in new ways that should improve
enforcement - if ABRA were actually to implement it and follow through
with prosecution. We strongly support the proposal, (read ABRA proposal),
includes recommendations we have made to ABRA and Orange's office.
However, we remain concerned about ABRA's lax enforcement
record, which was mentioned repeatedly at the hearing. Orange quipped
that he had a lot of noise in his office from resident complaints about
Moosally's plan: use a plainly audible standard for violation
amplified noise heard 50 feet away at night or 100 feet in daytime
without use of sound meters; protection of residents in commercial
zones; no more visits to complainant's residence; no music after
in outdoor space; stiffer penalties up to revoked license for
violations. He said he had enough staff to make this
Orange said he would replace the original bill text with the ABRA
proposal, which will be considered by the DC Council this fall.
In the meantime, we urge Moosally to implement the proposed enforcement
techniques as much as possible under current law. ABRA's first test
could be a "pilot" effort to use new techniques to tackle longstanding
noise problems in the Club Central area.
Witnesses from ANCs, residences, citizens associations, and even
restaurants, were generally positive with the ABRA proposal, calling it
a good starting point. Additional time for public comment will be
offered before a final bill reaches the Council. Many thanks to the
many people from several city areas who spent hours and testified
briefly about this noise problem.
From the Club Central neighborhood, Sarah Peck testified on
efforts to control
the nightlife noise. Read Peck testimony.
ANC Commissioner Abigail Nichols described the growth of the Club
Central noise problem.
testimony. Carl Nelson presented a White Paper on the science
boom-boom music/noise in the residents' bedrooms driven by the strong
propagation of low frequency sound. Read the White Paper
It is still four steps to quiet: passage of the bill by
committee, passage by the Council, signature by the Mayor, and vigorous
enforcement by ABRA. Even if all that happens, it will be at least
Christmas before peace descends.
Unless ABRA gets serious now and effectively enforces the
Jul 8. Press release Residents to
About Lack of Nightlife Noise Enforcement at July 9, 2015, DC
Council Hearing. Read press release.
Jun 4. In prep
for the July 9
hearing, we met with Orange who listened to our
stories and reminded us how his bill would move toward
enactment. Sarah Peck presented a proposed expanded
would set new standards and enforcement methods. Others presenting
views from their territories: Joan Sterling of Shaw-Dupont Citizens,
Diener of Dupont Circle Citizens, Abigail Nichols
ANC2B Commissioner, Dennis James of Kalorama Citizens, Sara
Maddux of Federation of Citizens Associations. Orange said he
expects the Restaurant Association to oppose any law with more teeth.
Orange also emphasized
that bills have to pass the Committee before even being considered by
the whole Council, and that the Committee members have to be convinced
enough of the merits to vote with Orange. A list of the materials
A later suggested
revision package for noise code 25-725: stiffer penalties,
protection for residents in commercial zones, violation if heard in
residence or audible 50 feet from source or louder than legal limit by
10 dB(A) or 5 dB(C), install auto-monitoring sensor in outdoor patio.
[Note: the dB(C) scale gathers all the low frequency sound power that
standard dB(A) scale ignores. dB(C) is important because low
frequencies penetrate residences farther away than assumed by the
Jun 4. A law we would like to see. When
political system to write a law, it is most useful to draft one for the
lawmakers. We proposed such a law for DC nightlife noise control to
Councilman Orange based on principles by Robert Chanaud - Noise Ordinances: Tools for
Modification and Enforcement of a Community Noise Ordinance. Read the
suggested rules and the suggested language for the
May 29. A DC hotel blasted a near neighbor who said the hotel
"hosting Friday night deck parties at ear shattering decibels" and
refused to turn down the volume because the music was created by "an
outside organizer ... [over which] they had no control over the
volume". The neighbor said "She then condescendingly told us that if we
didn't like it we could call the police. We did. It quieted for just a
few minutes but was then up to full blast." Good news: the
neighbor says ABRA showed up,
without passing through his residence, and told the hotel to shut down
the music. He also posted the incident on the hotel's Facebook page and
will file a complaint with the hotel chain.
May 25. Midtown proudly allowed a private party in
sound-protected roofdeck. Unfortunately for their claims, it
the only Club Central club operating at the time, which made a clear
test of its sound propagation into neighbors' residences.
Jefferson Row and Palladium condominium residents could hear it
One resident recorded it on video as evidence for the noise
Midtown is the white penthouse with the flashing
May 19. Praise
the lord, at least
[Orange] is thinking about it.
The city is either unwilling or unable to enforce exusting law,
Sarah Peck in Perry Stein's Washington Post story, Council Member wants noisy bars,
restaurants to record decibel levels.
a year's struggle by the Coalition to get the outdoor music levels from
the clubs into compliance with the noise laws. Stein reports that
Orange said he hopes the introduction serves an an impetus to discuss
how to ensure the city nightlife establishments do more to comply with
noise laws. Read
the article.. A hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 9.
May 12. Website District
Hopper reports that Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh has joined
co-sponsor of Vincent Orange's new nightlife noise bill.
May 5. Since residents' noise complaints are mostly
losing sleep, we sent ABRA Director Moosally a letter outlining the
science behind sleep disturbance from low frequency noise, especially
bass-dominated music, from which the World Health Organization
recommends using dB(C) scale for measurements, not the dB(A) scale of
DC law that is used for generic noise.
Read the letter to Moosally.
ABRA. At the
coalition’s request, we met April 30 on nightlife noise with
ABRA Director Moosally, ABRA staffers, DCRA, five police
officers, and Mayor's assistant [Judah Gluckman]. Resident reps from
Palladium and Jefferson Row condos, and LeDroit
Park. Moosally announced that
there is a new
noise bill introduced in the
Council, a new tour by the Noise Task Force with emphasis on roofdecks,
and added investigators for 7-day coverage. Residents
of too much investigators' invasion of residences to verify what is
obvious on the street and in the complaints register - that there is a
continuous noise disturbance out there that needs fixing, and of
general lack of effective noise law enforcement. Moosally conceded that
the ABRA procedure for investigators was being changed to recognize
that the law did not require limiting noise violations to 10PM to 7 AM,
and that the noise may not have to be heard by investigators in the
residence with the windows closed and any HVAC devices turned
off. DCRA noted its mission does not include nightlife, and
sound readings don't find violations because there is too much ambient
noise to find a 4 dB difference for any one club.
Moosally said the Noise Task Force would be active
starting in early May and more investigators would be active in June
and July. Residents asserted 1) that the Ozio decision by the
Board correctly treated the noise disturbance law; 2) that we need a
new law that recognizes the nightclub proliferation near residents, and
3) that we also need an outside expert in such problems to study the DC
problem and make recommendations (outside local politics) for a
workable scheme. The Mayor's rep Gluckman recorded his notes
action items in a memo [read
May 9. The Coalition wrote Councilman Orange to thank him for
introducing a bill for a new system for enforcement of nightlife noise
bill proposed hourly readings by each club of sound emanating from the
club, and a regular written report to ABRA of the measured sound
levels. We offered some suggestions on how the system could
structured and enforced. Read our letter .
May 9. DC is
suing the owner of a
Dupont Circle house who has
irritated neighbors and police for allegedly renting out the premises
to organizers of loud parties and private concerts ... (new) D.C.
Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed suit against the property owner,
citing “egregious and unsafe business practices” as well as more than a
hundred police calls to the property, many in response to reports of
excessive noise or disorderly conduct. [Abigail
WashPo article]. A residence cannot just declare itself a
open to the public, especially if it also makes a lot of noise. Only
nightclubs can get away with making a lot of illegal noise.
the AG will notice the nightclub illegality, and ABRA's impotence, and
actually do something useful about it. We have alerted him to the
May 3. Video
from Dirty Martini [on
youtube] making yet another illegal noise
disturbance which will no doubt be ignored by ABRA because it is a
Sunday evening and no staff at ABRA have nightclubs as a near
neighbor. Same time, noise disturbance by Public Bar which
actually agreed to turn down the volume.No, of course not permanently
when there is no enforcement.
April 30. meeting with ABRA Director, police, DCRA,
Mayor's office for more excuses about what is not being done
stop noise disturbances of residents near Club Central. Details soon.
Feb 20. “we are going force this issue to the
Councilman Orange as he recognized that
we have a
problem with club noise enforcement. He is the only
has actually come to Club Central on Saturday night to hear the
Feb 20. We testified on ABRA performance at end of
hour) Oversight Hearing of Councilman Orange's Committee on business
stuff. About 100 citizens had their say for three minutes
Sarah Peck, Abigail Nichols, and Carl Nelson emphasized that noise
control of the nightclubs depends on ABRA enforcement of the rules on
noise disturbance dictated by recent ABC Board decisions.
Read testimonies of Peck,
Maddux testified for the DC Federation of Citizens Associations Read Maddux
Testimony . ABRA Director Moosally and
three ABC Board
members were also present.
Feb 20. Fix entertainment endorsement rules, testified Mark
Rosenman, board member of Cleveland Park Citizens Association, so
residents can protest whenever a new or transferred endorsement is
proposed. Otherwise bad operators could obtain a license to
disturb the residents, at least until a case can be made for
challenging the license through the endless complaint process. Another
reason for ABRA to fix its enforcement scheme. Read
Feb 3. The ABC Board ruled that Bar Code (L Street
not emanate noise that disturbs residents. Specifically,
must limit its outdoor patio to 45 patrons and neither Barcode nor its
patrons can emit noise that can be heard in residences. The closest
residence, the protestants, is the Presidential condo at 16th &
Jan 21. The ABC Board declared open season on the residents of
condominium 45 feet from the Takoma Station Tavern which the board
found to have no effective barriers to amplified music sound, and
therfore allowed the tavern to operate only until 11 PM weekdays and
midnight on weekends with
restrctions. It declared such
sound to be not unduly burdensome, without asking how many condo
residents preferred, or needed, to sleep before those hours. No doubt
no member of the Board lived there. Read the
Board Order. Note that the law on noise disturbance does not
exceptions from limiting noise emanation to 60dB in residential areas.
Residents who have a problem will have to start again from Go with the
burden of proof to prove noise disturbance after it starts booming.
From our experience with Club Central, that process will take at least
Jan 14. The ABC Board denied a motion by the Coalition to more
sharply define the order for Dirty Martini not to annoy residents with
amplified music. The Board said that the
conditions imposed by the Board in this case create bright line
standards that are easy to enforce Read the
We want the enforcement authorities to see and enforce that bright line
even in a noisy environment of DC nightlife.
Dec 18. The Coalition submitted a letter
to the new Mayor and the new Attorney General asking for priority
attention to alcohol serving businesses that emit amplified music that
exceeds the legal limits of DC law. The letter was signed by
residents and citizen representatives and associations that are
disturbed by such noise. It asks specifically: 1)
public hearing on nightclub noise.; 2) Announce that enforcement of the
noise laws is a top priority and require the responsible agencies to
provide their plans to improve compliance and enforcement.;
3) Hire an independent, qualified consultant to investigate
District’s current noise enforcement regime, identify model laws and
best practices, and draft recommendations for reform.;
4) Restructure the regulatory framework
that one agency is responsible for enforcing the noise law, and is held
accountable.; 5) Take immediate steps to improve enforcement.
the letter. Additional signers are welcome as
supporters of the DC Nightlife Nose Coalition.
Dec 15. The ABC Board referred a resident's noise
(one of many) [Case#14-CMP-00687] against Dirty Martini to the ABRA
staff for settlement. That means the Board accepted the complaint as
valid and deserving a penalty but not so severe that justifies a full
show-cause hearing (unless the business refuses to settle with ABRA).
Dec 11. Contain
The ABC Board re-inforced its new take on the DC noise law
for alcohol licensees by ruling for the residents against Dirty Martini
when it found that the nightclub is making
too much noise. In its Board
Order, the Board ordered Dirty Martini
to change its business practices to cease disturbing residents with
music, including by specifically closing the exterior door between the
Bar" and an open air patio. The message for clubs in the District is
that sound needs to be contained within the establishment to avoid
violating DC law (and to avoid further restrictions on a liquor
license, or the risk of losing it altogether). The scene will thus
shift to enforcement which ABRA's investigators should be
able to manage without sound meters and without entering residents'
homes at all hours.
Nov 20. Review meeting with Fred Moosally, ABRA
Noise Task Force team (ABRA and DCRA) on progress, or lack thereof, in
protecting Dupont residents from loud music from nightclubs.
Joining DC Nightlife Noise coalition were leaders from ANC2B, DCCA, and
Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance. A statement was also submitted
a resident group from the 600 block of Florida Ave NW.
Nov 19. ABC Board echoed the Ozio standard by banning
music that would reach residents within 700 feet at Climax (Florida Ave
NW) but only after 11 PM on weekdays and midnight weekends.
Nov 19. ABC Board approved the Settlement Agreements with Rosebar, Sauf
Haus, and &Pizza.
-------- Earlier News items, full stories in News
Nov 12. ANC2B signed
Settlement Agreements with three
alcohol businesses in Club Central: Rosebar, Sauf Haus, and
Oct 5. Complaints
the Sunday evening enforcement-free music
assault at least drew a police officer.
Oct 1. Stop
said the ABC Board in denying
nightclub Ozio's motion for
reconsideration of its ruling against Ozio's roofdeck's
music into the nearby residences. Read the
Sep 24. ABC Board denied a
bar's application for patron-related disturbance
residential neighborhood, even without an entertainment
18th & Swann St Read
18th St Lounge reached a Settlement Agreement with the
Jefferson Row and
Sep 15. Necessary protest.
Dupont residents filed a
against the Sauf Haus license in the face of a
roof deck as a temptation to Sauf
Haus's joining the other six bars with roofdecks in pounding out 100 dB
music during sleeping hours.
Sep 10 Nightclub
Dupont Current editorial ...
the board wisely sided with nearby Jefferson Row condo
owners. ... keep the Ozio roof closed when the club
bans amplified sounds that can be heard inside a residence.
... But the board’s order already accommodates more noise
city law allows near residentially zoned areas. ... More will
needed, though, .... more
government involvement in noise issues.
Aug 27, 2014
ABC Board ruled that Ozio nightclub must not
disturb the neighbors. Must allow no live
bands on its roof, close the roof when entertainment is playing,
generate no amplified sound that can be heard in neighbors'
the Board Order.
The decision helps neighbors of nightclubs with outdoor amplified music
deal with the many clubs throughout DC that want to give patrons
both ear-splitting music and outdoor fresh air
and moonlight. Ozio will appeal, reports Perry Stein
in City Paper.
CityPaper article by
Perry Stein After
Complain, Dupont’s Ozio
Forced to Limit Music on Its Roof
Aug 13. Residents lose.
Board board threw out the resident's noise measurement
was not done by licensed acoustics engineer with professional sound
meter, and said establishment cannot be unreasonable if a licensee has
taken commercially reasonable steps to soundproof Read
the Board's Order.
New residents to
encroach on existing noisy
nightclubs. A new building at 13th & U NW feeds the
made by alcohol biz that
neighbors should live somewhere else which is being continually ignored
to enforce existing
happens wherever political forces favor business operators.[quotes
John Taylor, American Economic Review, May 2014]
May 18. Residents
of the Palladium complain in vain. electronic ABRA
complaint fails and call to 311 produced only a
Albert Einstein once declared, "Nothing
is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the
land than passing laws which cannot be enforced."
Commissioner Guthrie tells ABC Board “The regulatory
bodies that should be in our neighborhood have been falling short —
May 8. Dupont residents made a settlement agreement for
and quiet with Rosebar on noise (music). Rosebar keeps the
music it wants inside with excellent sound absorbing walls and downward
aiming the sub-woofers. Sound tests established the maximum loudness
inside that would not be heard outside at the intersection of St
Matthews Court (a.k.a. the alley) and N Street where seventy new
"luxury" condos are being built.
May 8. self-identified blogger Frymaster:
there may, in fact, be
but handheld SPL meters on the sidewalk won’t find it. ... It’s the bass! Pro sound systems
the past 20 years, modern, top-level professional subwoofers can
reproduce the lowest octaves with far greater power than ever
before. lying in a bed in a quiet apartment, even 50dB
of 40 Hz at 120 BPM is gonna annoy the crap out of you.
May 5. Sarah and Abigail testified at the Council Committee
on ABRA's Budget that
new enforcement is needed, and recommended that ABRA be authorized to
study the sound propogation of loud bass-dominated from the nightlclub
scene into the residential areas.
Noise Task Force
reported noise in one of fifty tests in Club Central in its
weeks. But the Dupont residents found about 49 out of fifty in
violation. The residents did note that the volume of
offensive music has substantially decreased lately.
Apr 21. A
deal - Midtown and
Dirty Martini (with common
Michael Romeo) made a Settlement Agreement with the
to limit the noisy music from the roofdecks. Needs ABRA review.
boom music from Dirty Martini. See two videos:
down the alley
from N Street, and 2. phoning
ABRA with the music playing behind the bar.
Citizens Association passed a
of support for the coalition.
Apr 10. Dirty
protest hearing bans sound measurements.
So, the residents had to rely a broader provision of
the law of a number-free "noise disturbance."
ABRA issued an
advisory letter that
permits settlement agreements without protest. Letter to
Apr 6. Dirty Martini pounds out the music early Sunday night
disturb Palladium sleep. Video clips of propagation of 87dB
playing in Dirty Martini roofdeck: 1. in the alley behind
2. 50 feet in
the alley from
the club rear ; 3. alley
opening onto N Street; 4. approaching club
entrance. Resident Peck notified police and ABRA;
to dispatch an investigation unit.
Mar 26. Press release : CM Orange
from Dupont Circle
Mar 26. Washington City Paper article by Perry Stein. Dupont Circle Citizens Take
on Loud Nightclubs, One Decibel Reading at a Time.
Mar 21. Press
Release on Hearing ABRA
Hearing Lasts 7 Hours in Dupont Circle Protest
Mar 19. ABRA
Protest hearing on re-issuance of license for Ozio
nightlcub. Protestants from Palladium Condominiums ask for a mandate to
contain the music.
Mar 17. InTowner article Newly
Formed Neighborhood Group Seeks Ways to Curb Excessive Nightclub
by Ben Lasky
Mar 16. An anonymous DC citizen
Director of ABRA, .... If
nightclubs keep the noise indoors, no one will know or care.
Mar 16. DCist blog Restaurant,
Bar Noise Crack Down Commences
Mar 16. Noticeably
less noisy. Club Central had
lower dB readings early this AM as the Noise Task Force
newly re-committed work.
Mar 14. Shhhhhhh!
a D.C. Bar! by Perry Stein in Washington City Paper blogs on
Noise Coalition's pressing the city noise checkers into active
investigation. Sarah Peck was quoted: I
don't know whether it's all show, or whether it will be a true
enforcement, we will be watching and consulting.
Mar 12. Press release by ABRA ABRA Kicks Off
Campaign on Noise Laws
ABRA investigator supervisor answers noise enforcement challenge with
"That's a DCRA
Director Moosally sent a letter
all licensees that the Noise
Task Force will be conducting noise level checks outside
establishments in the coming months against a standard of 60dB(A) limit
on sound emissions.
Fred Moosally outlined new noise enforcement
noise checks. The
nightclubs spoke up, mostly through the head of the Nightlife
Promises, Mayor Gray, DC
Officials Still Not Enforcing Noise Law in Dupont Circle
The DC Nightlife Noise
Coalition walked Club Central on
Saturday night, March 8, Recorded
disturbing levels of amplified sound emanating from local night
clubs. For the complete story, read our press release March 9.
Central noise sources map
shows that two major sources power the disturbances felt by the
residents. The cross-hatched boxes are clubs contributing to
late-night noise. Public bar was not cross-hatched because our
inspection of that club showed that they were containing the interior
noise. Ozio was not cross-hatched at the time the
created but has since proved to also be a source. The large black dots
are the two points that act essentially as generators of noise
nearby residences. [created by Sarah Peck]
Mar 5. Press Release:
Council, Mayor Vow to Control Dupont Circle Club Noise
office told Palladium residents that No one should be
sustained noise in excess of what the law allows.
testified at the annual ABRA Oversight
hearing. We expressed concern that ABRA, DCRA and MPD are not
enforcing the DC Noise
Control Act. ABRA Director Moosally admitted the law
does limit amplified sound levels to 60 decibels or below. He
also admitted that the Noise Task Force has not visited the Club
Central Area despite our complaints and has not issued citations for
Residents of the Palladium Condominium, located in Dupont
published a White Paper by Sarah Peck, “The
Enforcement of the DC Noise Ordinance To Control Nightclub
Noise.” The Paper presents noise data showing
the Club Central area -- the 1200 blocks of 18th Street and Connecticut
Avenue -- are exceeding the statutory limit for amplified
noise. The Paper also urges the Mayor to (1)
support for the enforcement of the Noise Control Act; (2) appoint an
ombudsman to work with residents adversely affected by night club noise
and to advise the Mayor; (3) improve enforcement of the law by DCRA,
ABRA, and police; (4) revise applicable regulations to prohibit outdoor
amplified music by commercial establishments in residential areas.
Comments should be directed to Sarah Peck at
An inspiration, Here I
surrounded by all kinds of noise (my lodgings overlook a bath-house).
Seneca's letter to Lucilius. (Seneca letter 56.1-2)
Action Needed: Enforce the
- The Noise Control Act prohibits nightclubs from exceeding
meter of their exterior walls.
This limitation applies to night clubs located in
commercial zones, including in Dupont Circle, without exception.
- Both MPD officers and
inspectors are authorized to go straight to the source of
the sound to investigate.
These officials are authorized to order sound to be lowered, or
to issue warnings or citations if, in their judgment, a club is
producing noise that exceeds
the maximum limit or that constitutes a noise disturbance.
Our recommendations to the Mahyor:
- Declare support for the Noise Control Act and demand
- Appoint an Ombudsman to work with residents affected by
noise and advise
the Mayor on ways to improve enforcement;
- Improve the enforcement by directing (1) DCRA to revise
improve enforcement of club noise, (2) ABRA to revise
procedures to focus on
enforcement at the source of the noise, and (3) police officials to
enforce the Act;
- Revise applicable regulations to ban amplified music in
spaces in commercial establishments adjacent to residential areas.
enjoy the music
let the family sleep