DC Nightlife Noise

TESTIMONY
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, CONSUMER & REGULATORY AFFAIRS
 COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
COUNCILMEMBER VINCENT ORANGE, CHAIR

Performance Oversight Hearing – Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

Melissa Stanley, Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hello and Good Morning.  My name is Melissa Stanley and I have been a resident of the Palladium at 1325 18th Street, NW since 1993.  During the past few years, I have seen my quiet, tree-lined street become a loud, congested service road for businesses on Connecticut Avenue.  I have to forgo any entertaining or enjoyment of my balcony after sundown.  I have to run my heating and air conditioning unit every night, regardless of temperature, just to drown out the club noise and enable me to sleep.Since the saturation of bars and clubs in DuPont South, life at the Palladium has changed drastically and not for the good.

Yet, I am not here to talk about the murder at 2 am in front of Midtown last November, the rape behind a building on Connecticut last December or the hit and run killing of a pedestrian by a drunk driver at 1am in front of the Mad Hatter. No, I’m not going to bring up the traffic jams or illegal double parking that occurs daily while trucks deliver to those restaurants and bars on Connecticut, via the 18th Street “service road”.Nor dwell on the drunk, puking strangers that greet me on my front steps when I come home from work at 2am or the women I have given coffee to in order to sober up and put in cabs with the help of our security guard at 3am. I won’t bore you with the stories of sex on windshields while men enjoy the show from inside their cars, the urination all over our front entrance or the make-shift bar that popped up in the adjoining vacant building’s parking lot for “pre-bar parties “out of a van. No, I won’t go in to all of that.

What I am here today to ask of you is this, enforce the law. Please turn down the music to the legal sound limit. 60 decibels is the law and all I am asking is that business owners observe the law. Period. If you don’t like the law, change it. But for now, it is the law and it should be enforced across the board, fairly and equally, to all.

Now some have called us, “chronic complainers”[1] and claim that we are not entitled to expect law enforcement since we live in the “entertainment district.” Somehow, because of our location, we are not entitled to the same police protection as other District residents. Evidently, in certain areas of the city, laws are optional and only apply to certain neighborhoods, to certain people, certain classes. Therefore, some city residents just should NOT expect law enforcement or police protection because of their address. If they live in a bar area, they knew there would be noise. Who cares if it is illegal noise?

Yet, by that logic, that means if you live in a bad neighborhood and get killed, too bad. You knew it was bad when you moved in. You are not entitled to the expectation of equal protection under the law.In other words,you shouldn’t be surprised if you are approached by a hooker on 14th Street, shot in South East or robbed on Capitol Hill because as Mark Lee, DC nightlife advocate said, “claiming ignorance after moving into” such an area, “should not be grounds for later complaints regarding living” in said neighborhoods.

I only wish Mr. Lee would have imparted his nightlife wisdom to Thomas Maslin before he was found beaten and left for dead on a porch in Capitol Hill [2]. He, like us at the Palladium, must have had “different expectations for the neighborhood than what is actually there”[3] Yes, like equal protection under the law.

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[1]The Dupont Current, 02/12/2014, “Push to enforce noise rules sparks debate”, Katie Pearce

[2]Washington Post, 8/20/2012, “Man found Beaten in Capitol Hill attack remains in critical condition but able to squeeze wife’s hand”, Peter Hermann

[3]Kevin O’Connor, A Dupont ANC Commissioner