DC Nightlife Noise

News & Views

Nov 12.  ANC2B signed on to Settlement Agreements with three alcohol businesses in Club Central: Rosebar, Sauf Haus, and &Pizza.  The key clause is that the business recognizes a violation and must turn down the music volume if the music can be heard 75 feet away or residents or ABRA investigators complain. It no way limits what the club does inside as long as the neighbors cannot hear it. 

Oct 5.  Complaints about the Sunday evening enforcement-free music assault at least drew a police officer to a nearby residence where he proclaimed that businesses can make all the noise they want in the commercial zone. So, Sunday night noise law enforcement has two agencies asleep and the police misinformed about the law. 

Oct 1.  Stop the Music, said the ABC Board in denying nightclub Ozio's motion for reconsideration of its ruling against Ozio's roofdeck's dumping loud music into the nearby residences.  To make even clearer its intent, it greatly expanded the legal arguments for its position on noise disturbances.  The principle is clear: residents are entitled by law to peace, order, and quiet in their homes. Of course, a ruling has little effect unless it is enforced, and recent resident complaints about continued loud pounding music, especially on Sunday nights, are still falling on deaf ears.  Read the Board Order.

Sep 24.  ABC Board denied a bar's application for patron-related disturbance of the residential neighborhood, even without an entertainment endorsement.  Saloon45 at 18th & Swann St could not overcome the testimony of residents and ANC2B of the disturbances from Bar Charley next door which has basically the same operation plan plus a full kitchen.The Board also said that the applicant did not make an appropriate case for appropriateness.  Two differences between this case and the Club Central clubs are active support of the residents by Councilmember Jack Evans and ANC2B's chair Will Stephens.  If south Dupont residents had that kind of backup, the Club Central nightclubs would never pass the appropriateness test, especially after endless loud music until 3-4AM is added to the Saloon45-like patron-related disturbance. Read the Board Order.

Sep 17.  18th St Lounge and the residents of Jefferson Row and Palladium condominiums reached a Settlement Agreement to contain the loud outdoor low frequency music in a way that ABRA enforcement does not depend on sound level measurements. 18th St invested in enough acoustical engineering and sound absorbing surfaces to contain all their music within 75 feet of the business.  Such an agreement is a big step in letting the music flow on the roofdeck while the nearby residents sleep.  The whole situation still needs ABRA, the ABC Board and the District Council to recognize the difficulty of enforcing DC noise laws in the presence of multiple sources among which residents could not well distinguish a particular source that disturbs them and the reluctance of ABRA to abandon its model of a noise source in a sea of silence, in this case six sources each wanting to blame the others for the excess noise. Kudos to owner Farid Nouri for respecting the residents and the neighborhood.

Sep 15. Necessary protest.  Since the ANC2B refuses to protect the residents south of Dupont Circle, the Jefferson Row and Palladium residents jointly filed a protest against the Sauf Haus license to force either the business or the ABC Board to face the lack of enforcement of nightclub noise.  The residents see the building of a large outdoor roof deck as a temptation to Sauf Haus joining the other six bars with roofdecks in pounding out 100 dB music during sleeping hours.  The difficulty for the residents is fashioning a condition for the bar to honor that ABRA would find itself able to enforce without noise meter measurements that the alcohol regulation system has abandoned.  The situation is fluid because the Board ruled against Ozio's music, ANC2B06 has no commissioner to represent Jefferson Row, and no city official of any kind accepts any responsibility for nightclub noise control.  Not even Ward 2's Council Member Evans shows any interest in the problem.  Eventually, the political system has to face up to the question of nightclub tax revenues versus peace for nearby residents as more and more residents in many city places are appearing on the boundaries of nightclubs wanting to pound out music for the patrons who can go home when they want to sleep.

Sep 10 Nightclub noise  Dupont Current editorial:

If you own a nightclub, it’s understandable that you’d want to be able to take the party outside onto your roof or patio. Not only does it let you accommodate more patrons, but many customers will also value being able to revel out in the fresh air.
But if you own a home that backs to such a nightclub, it’s understandable that you’d want live entertainment and other amplified music to stay indoors. Such is the clash of interests that is found in many bustling mixed-use areas — and that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board recently sought to address regarding Ozio Martini and Cigar Bar in southern Dupont Circle.
In that case, the board wisely sided with nearby Jefferson Row condo owners. Its order prohibits Ozio from having bands perform on the roof, requires the bar to keep the roof closed when the club features entertainment, and bans amplified sounds that can be heard inside a residence.
In the District, a license to serve alcohol comes with the condition that an establishment not disrupt the peace, order and quiet of the surrounding community. This doesn’t preclude loud nightclubs from operating. In this case, all the neighbors asked was that the noise be kept indoors rather than shouted from the rooftops.
Ozio is asking the board to reconsider its ruling, noting that both its property and Jefferson Row are on commercially zoned land. This exempts Ozio from restrictions on music that’s audible beyond an establishment’s property.
But the board’s order already accommodates more noise from Ozio than city law allows near residentially zoned areas. The board specified only that the club’s amplified sounds shouldn’t be heard inside a home — as opposed to just anywhere outside of its property. This strikes a fair and appropriate balance, acknowledging Ozio’s commercial zoning without disregarding
neighbors’ rights to some degree of peace, order and quiet simply on the basis of their homes’ land-use designation.
More will be needed, though, to protect the vitality of D.C.’s increasing number of mixed-use neighborhoods for all users. Activists in various communities have called for more consistent enforcement of noise regulations, which we agree is a critical first step. In the Ozio case, the alcohol board paid little heed to noise evidence from either the establishment or the community’s DC Nightlife Noise Coalition because neither party conducted legally sufficient tests.
This speaks to the need for more D.C. government involvement in noise issues.

Aug 27, 2014  UNREASONABLE!   The ABC Board ruled that Ozio nightclub (near 18th and M Streets NW) can keep its alcohol license only on condition that its sound of music is not unreasonable, that is, it does not disturb the neighbors. After sorting through seven hours of evidence and argument on March 19, it ordered Ozio to obey three commandments: allow no live bands on its roof, close the roof when entertainment is playing, generate no amplified sound that can be heard in neighbors' residences.  Because the conditions do not require sound meter measurements normally done by DCRA (which was not a party to the protest), the enforcement can be done by ABRA investigators inside the club.  Read 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.Also unreasonable, according to Ozio's lawyer, is the Board's decision, which he says Ozio will appeal, reports Perry Stein in City Paper.  Appeal or no, the rules for nightlife music need the  Board, and if necessary, the Council, to recognize the threat to peace, order, and quiet from outdoor amplified nightlife music. 

Aug 13. Residents lose again on noise. An apartment dweller abutting a bar protested the license of Chi-Cha Lounge for noise. The Board threw out the resident's noise measurement because it was not done by a licensed acoustics engineer with a professional sound meter, as is specified in the noise law when sound meter measurements are offered as evidence, even though they measured between 80 and 92 dB outside the bar. A troglodyte standard from the days before proliferating multi-purpose electronic instruments like smartphones. A curious board might have asked about the volume of the music/noise that had such a high decibel count, and taken notice that such readings and the human report of the levels of music/noise would have been sufficient evidence of way too loud sound.  Further, the Board ruled that In the Board's view, noise generated by an establishment cannot be "unreasonable" if a licensee has taken commercially reasonable steps to soundproof its establishment and is not otherwise in violation of the District of Columbia's noise laws. It did not matter that the damping effort failed, only that the bar can continue to contribute tax revenue to the city. Extensive sound measurements by residents in Dupont Club Central with a DCRA meter and multiple other meters, including those by acoustical engineers from four nightclubs, all agree within a few dB over the range of noise disturbing music, where the gap between the measurements and the legal maximum is 10 to 30 dB. An error band of 3dB for example is negligible on the scale of the disturbing music. On every count the Board took the narrowest possible view of the facts and effectively shifted the burden of proof from the bar to the residents. The Chi-Cha case is another example of the noise law's deafness to the real problem in favor of allowing nightclubs to make all they noise they find profitable. Read the Board's Order.

Jun 25. New residents to encroach on existing noisy nightclubs. A new building at 13th & U NW will have 130 apartments right on the 14th & U corridor that the ABC Board refused to protect with a moratorium. The argument made by alcohol biz that neighbors should live somewhere else is being continually ignored by developers (who may or may not be advising their new buyers of coming sleep problems).  The ABC Board and the DC Council will have to do something other than ignore the problem and install barriers to citizen protest as it has been doing in service to tax revenue.

The main problem was not insufficient regulations, but a failure to enforce existing regulations.  Where? In DC nightclubs? Yes, mostly, but the quote is about the 2008 financial crisis. While there were hundreds of regulators and supervisors from the New York Fed on the premises of the large financial institutions, they evidently allowed these institutions to deviate from existing safety and soundness rules and thereby take on excessive risks. Just like noise enforcers in Club Central who need ear protection as they find no noise violations.  Of course, unenforced regulation happens wherever political forces favor business operators.[quotes from John Taylor, American Economic Review, May 2014]

May 18.  Residents of the Palladium again heard the booming bass music of Club Central during the Sunday daytime and into the sleeping hours after 10:30PM. An attempt to file an electronic ABRA complaint produced a notice that the complaint must be dated not earlier than the next day (Monday). A call to 311 produced only a termination of the call before any office was reached. Clearly, the complaint system does not want to hear from residents.  The only recourse then is to use 911 - a critical emergency network - for non-emergency calls.

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."  

May 11. The regulatory view in Adams Morgan in an ABC Board moratorium hearing.

there was general agreement that city alcohol authorities have not adequately enforced license regulations in the moratorium area. At one point during the hearing, board member Hector Rodriguez drew applause from the 50 or so people in the room when he asked whether the current moratorium would be effective if his board came down harder on violators.   Ted Guthrie, the Adams Morgan neighborhood commissioner who opposed his colleagues’ proposal, said he doesn’t believe new rules would be enforced. “The regulatory bodies that should be in our neighborhood have been falling short — considerably short,” he said [Dupont Current, May 14]

May 8. Dupont residents made a settlement agreement for peace, order, and quiet with Rosebar on noise (music).  Rosebar keeps the loud 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 Frymaster, commenting on a Mark Lee opinion piece in Washington Blade, shed more light on why Club Central residents are bothered by so much noise:

Long story short: there may, in fact, be an issue with sound, but handheld SPL meters on the sidewalk won’t find it. That said, maybe people who don’t like nightlife shouldn’t live in the nightclub district, right?

I’m no fuddy-duddy. You don’t mix rock bands and set up PAs for the same ‘cuz you plan on going to church the next morning. But you also learn a thing or two about acoustics along the way. I don’t know the details of the complaints, but I can guess what’s really behind this. It’s actually stupendously common.

It’s the bass! Pro sound systems have improved massively over the past 20 years, as anyone who goes to a good club could tell you.

Specifically, modern, top-level professional subwoofers from Funktion One, Avalon (EAW) and Fulcrum can reproduce the lowest octaves — from 20 – 80 Hz — with far greater power than ever before. (You know I’m not lyin’.) Modern technique is to “bunker” the subs in concrete and sand if possible to maximize the output. Altogether, this generates an ungodly amount of acoustical energy that get into the foundations of the building and then into whatever is beneath that.

Unlike sound in the air that decays pretty quickly, sound travels through solids much more efficiently, so it decays over a longer distance. These super powerful, super long sound waves can easily travel a couple hundred feet into the foundations of surrounding buildings. Yes, they can be on the next block. Once they get into these other buildings, the energy travels all through the structure, yes, up many floors of a high rise. The rooms then act as resonators.

The bad news is that there really isn’t a fix. A well-known club on Folsom St in SF has spent significant money trying to isolate their subs and with very little effect.

So, yeah, the SPL meter on the sidewalk shows an average level in a moderate range. But lying in a bed in a quiet apartment, even 50dB of 40 Hz at 120 BPM is gonna annoy the crap out of you.

The pounding subwoofer on open roofdecks was not part of the sound world when the Noise Control Act was enacted decades ago. And the low frequencies also propagate in air something like 30 times stronger than high frequencies before they reach the upper parts of the residential buldings where they then penetrate the bedrooms. The World Health Organization has recommended new standards for sleep protection in low frequency noise environments that call for using the C-scale for measuring disturbing noise full force instead of the diminished force of the standard A-scale. To record bass birds singing, use a bass-sensitive meter. To detect whether any one bird is too loud needs a new enforcement scheme. If that's too hard to invent, a blanket limit on sound generation on open decks would lower every club's disturbance of the peace. Our age of seemingly unlimited technology invention can surely produce a solution fair to all.

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.  

Apr 28. Birds of a feather sing together. The re-juvenated Noise Task Force reported on its first six weeks with a report of ten noise violations from 191 checks of various nightlife clubs.  Which the kibitzers quickly accepted as a passing grade and a clue that the noise isn't so bad. But the Dupont residents of the DC Nightlife Coalition found six clubs in constant violation of the 60 dB maximum on almost every visit over a three month period. That's about 49 out of fifty in violation.  Which shows a serious flaw in enforcement that systemically defines deviancy down.  A serious debate followed between the regulators and the residents.  The residents did note that the volume of offensive music has substantially decreased lately as negotiations with the clubs over protests against their license move toward and into Settlement Agreements that lets the clubs play their hearing-damaging music without disturbing the residents' sleep. The regulators admitted that they need to adjust to the reality of multiple loud music sources instead of allowing birds of a feather to sing together as a group defense of behavior that would be found illegal if only one were doing it.

Apr 21. A deal - Midtown and Dirty Martini (with common owner Michael Romeo) made a Settlement Agreement with the Palladium residents to limit the noisy music from the roofdecks. That means 60dB as required by the Noise Control Act, with the owner installing enough sound mitigation materials to get an 80dB room down to emanating no more than 60 dB. And periodic sound checks that the music cannot be heard on N Street where the 70 new condos are in construction. When ABRA completes the inclusion of the agreement as a part of the clubs' licenses, the agreement will be publicly available.

Apr 13. Early Sunday evening, boom, boom music from Club Central. This time the source was unmistakeable - the only open nightclub: Dirty Martini.  Although that finding needed investigation because of the echoing in the neighborhood. But the alley behind the club was jumping to the music. No numbers, please, the law forbids mere citizens from measuring the noise. See two videos: 1.  walking down the alley from N Street, and 2. phoning ABRA with the music playing behind the bar. Too bad, ABRA doesn't work on Sunday night.

Apr 11. Dupont Circle Citizens Association  passed a resolution of support for the coalition:

Regulatory DCCA membership voted to endorse the new Nightlife Noise Coalition in its efforts to improve enforcement of the District’s Noise Law. Coalition co-founder Abigail Nichols, who serves as Dupont ANC Commissioner for 2B-05, accepted accolades from the membership and President Estrada for bringing media attention to the noise problems of the “Club Central” area just south of Dupont Circle park. A resolution was passed unanimously. [DCCA Minutes]

Apr 10. Mother may I go out to swim? / Yes, my darling daughter./ Hang your clothes on a hickory limb,/ but don't go near the water.  When a career scientist uses a DC-government instrument to record sound levels outside a DC nightclub -- a meter that takes no more technical skill to operate than the ability to turn the TV on and off and find a station  -- the DC law forbids the resulting measured sound pressures to be used in any legal or administrative action against the nightclub. An almost perfect shield for nightclubs to flout any legal restrictions on their assault on the public ear. 

The defensive shield was invoked by the Dirty Martini nightclub of Dupont Circle in an ABRA Protest Hearing on license renewal against a group of residents who could demonstrate disturbance of their sleep by the nightclub. And so the residents had to rely a broader provision of the law of a number-free "noise disturbance."

Meanwhile, a proudly re-announced DC Noise Task Force is using that same meter apparently to find no violations of any DC noise law by any nightclub. The nightclubs deserve a perfect score for political influence for inducing the politicians to enact such a law and the politicians deserve brickbats for knowingly disarming their own constituents. The politician who was elected by these Dupont residents deserves a special brickbat for never lifting his tongue or his finger to help these attacked residents. Nevertheless, the residents danced in the pantomime to enliven the "noise disturbance" approach in the ABC Board's mind. Sometime in the next ninety days the Board will issue a ruling while all the six nightclubs with open roofdecks in Club Central pour more loud music into the residents' homes.

The protest pantomime raises some interesting tactical and strategic questions.  The owner did not testify at all and the attorney played hardball at every turn as the residents recited first person accounts of an impossibly impenetrable non-enforcement system.  The board, however is made of older responsible and experienced people, who probably do not see the stark black-and-white coldly impersonal world that the nighclub showed where the residents effectively have no way to seek redress.  By shutting the door to compromise by not even allowing it to be mentioned, nor the numbers that could make part of a base for negotitaion even to be mentioned, the club pushed the board to find its own way to equity in the face of an uncooperative operator with a clean record in a world where every operator has a clean record on noise because equitable enforcement with penalties does not even exist. If the residents and the operator do not find a compromise before the board rules, the huge field of nightclub operators in the District may find a new world being born. 

Apr 7. Deal without protest.  ABRA issued an advisory letter to a citizens group that permits settlement agreements with alcohol busineses without going through messy protest procedures. Letter to Cleveland Park Citizens Association. The whole protest process raises a high wall of process whenever residents object to an alcohol businesses planned or actual operation. Although the official rules place the burden of proof on the business, the practicalities make that burden a fiction and the residents have the effective burden of convincing a politically appointed board dedicated to making alcohol business a successful District enterprise to act against any business promising more tax revenue.

Apr 6. Dirty Martini pounds out the music early Sunday night to disturb Palladium sleep.  Video clips of propagation of 87dB music playing in Dirty Martini roofdeck:  1.  in the alley behind the club;    2. 50 feet in the alley from the club rear ;  3. alley opening onto N Street;  4.  approaching club streetside entrance.  Resident Peck notified police and ABRA; 911 agreed to dispatch an investigation unit.  

Mar 26. Press release : CM Orange Witnesses Noise from Dupont Circle Clubs

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 Ozio to contain the music.

Mar 17. InTowner article Newly Formed Neighborhood Group Seeks Ways to Curb Excessive Nightclub Noise  by Ben Lasky

Mar 16. Thank you, concerned citizen: An anonymous DC citizen wrote the Director of ABRA,

You're going to enforce the noise control act!  A long-time DC resident, I like the bustle of city life and am totally sanguine about the occasional loud drunk(s).  The problem you're addressing is different.    If bars & nightclubs keep the noise indoors, no one will know or care.  As Mrs. Patrick Campbell famously said about Oscar Wilde's trial, I don't what people do as long as they don't do it in the streets where it frightens the horses.   Again, thank you. 
And to Sarah Peck wrote, You're the one who warrants thanks. They moved because you deftly applied pressure and logic.

Mar 16. DCist blog Restaurant, Bar Noise Crack Down Commences

Mar 16.  Noticeably less noisy. Club Central had noticeably lower dB readings early this AM as the Noise Task Force starts its newly re-committed work.  The occasion was an education tour for a curious local reporter from Washington City Paper.  Could be simple fear of the unknown or a report that loud music bars could be assessed a penalty and a resultant black mark that could have an impact on their license. We don't know as the ABRA process remains opaque.

Mar 14.   Shhhhhhh! You’re in a D.C. Bar! by Perry Stein in Washington City Paper blogs on the 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 Compliance Campaign on Noise Laws

A standing start.  At an ANC ABRA Committee meeting, an ABRA investigator person came to tell about the new thing with the Noise Task Force. He droned on about meetings, and inter-agency cooperation, and the present process for finding noise violations. An audience member posed a hypothetical situation:  an ABRA investigator walking down the street in clubland hears music coming out of a licensed establishment. What does he do?  If the door is open, ask the owner to close it.  OK, now the music can still be heard on the other side of the street; what next?  Ask the owner to turn the volume down.  And if the owner refuses?    .... Answer: That's a DCRA problem. A police lieutenant in the audience said the police would not cite the owner either because they would need a complicated procedure with a sound meter to establish "ambient" as a baseline. The ABRA part of the NoiseTask Force is off to a standing start. Meanwhile, all three members of the committee said that many residents complain about the noise.  

Warning notice.  ABRA Director Moosally sent a letter to 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.

New noise action. ABRA Director Fred Moosally at a public meeting outlined new noise enforcement action: There will be increased noise checks starting this Thursday in many areas, including this [Dupont Circle] neighborhood.  Business will not be informed beforehand. From Thursday to Sunday evenings only, from 10pm until 3am.  The meeting also heard from 2d District Police Commander Reece and a manager from DCRA.  The nightclubs spoke up, mostly through the head of the Nightlife Association.  The promise is less bothersome noise, but no details yet on the nasty real problem of sorting out blame among multiple simultaneous competitive noise generators.   We remain hopeful but wary as ABC Control Board Member Mike Silverstein reminded everyone twice that hospitality generates $400M a year for the District in taxes and should not be endangered lightly. 

Despite Promises, Mayor Gray, DC Officials Still Not Enforcing Noise Law in Dupont Circle   The DC Nightlife Noise Coalition took a walk in Club Central on Saturday night, March 8, from midnight to 2 am.  We recorded disturbing levels of amplified sound emanating from local night clubs.  For the complete story, read our press release March 9.   For an audio-visual visit to the noise hot spots:

For more information, contact Sarah Peck at 443-240-4435.  Or visit www.dcnightlifenoise.com

noise mapClub Central noise sources map shows that two major sources power the disturbances felt by the residents.  The cross-hatched boxes are clubs contributing to the 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 map was 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 to the nearby residences.  [created by Sarah Peck]

Mar 5. Press Release: Council, Mayor Vow to Control Dupont Circle Club Noise

Feb 20. Mayor Gray's office told the Palladium residents that No one should be forced to listen to sustained noise in excess of what the law allows. An e-mail said that

The Noise Task Force will be restarting its enforcement efforts in the next several weeks and your neighborhood will be one of the primary areas targeted to check whether licensed establishments are complying with the District’s noise laws. Prior to the beginning of the Noise Task Force’s enforcement efforts, licensed alcohol establishments will be receiving a letter from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration advising them of (1) the District’s noise provisions that they are required to follow and (2) that the multi-agency Noise Task Force will be checking licensed establishments for compliance.

We thank the mayor for hearing our demand for enforcement and we ask if the other candidates will equally commit to enforcement of DC laws.

testifiersTestifiers.  February 19, a panel of  residents of the Palladium provided public testimony at the annual Performance and Budget Oversight hearing held by the DC Council on the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.  (in photo, l to r Melissa Stanley, Tom McMahon, Sarah Peck, Abigail Nichols)   We expressed concern to the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs chaired by Vincent Orange that ABRA, DCRA and MPD are not enforcing the DC Noise Control Act.  Testimony Peck ; Nichols  ;  Stanley ; McMahon.

Later during agency testimony in response to Chairman Orange's questioning, 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 violations.

At the urging of Orange, Director Moosally made the following commitments at the hearing:  (1) a letter will be sent to all licensees citywide explaining the law, including the 60 decibel limit; (2) ABRA, in cooperation with other agencies, will enforce this law, and (3) Moosally with keep the DC Nightlife Noise Coalition and the Oversight Committee informed on progress.

The DC Nightlife Noise Coalition is pleased with this result.  Sarah Peck met with Moosally after the hearing and offered to serve as a resource to ensure effective enforcement. Committee Chair Orange said he would visit Club Central early one Saturday morning for a first hand view, and said he hoped he would not see the conditions described by Melissa Stanley.

Mar 30.  Blogger Mark Lee issued a notice to noise critics that a new proposed  'condo bldg has windows designed to let in lots of light but not outdoor noise'. To which DC Nightlife Noise responds:   [copy words]  

Happy words and promises from a developer echoed by a newswriter.  If true, great, but irrelevant to noise protection for already existing  residences.

An acid test of the promises would be whether the interior will meet WHO specs for restful sleep at 30 dB in the presence of low frequency noise, especially if the incident low frequency noise on the building exceeds the unenforced legal maximum of 60 dB.  Does the developer guarantee such restful conditions? If not, should the nightlife noise coalition, or a responsible blogger, take notice and alarm prospective buyers?

What, by the way, does a responsible blogger do with such questions?

Mar 9. Rosebar 90dB din at 1:30 AM.   Play Rosebar video

Feb 26. The residents in Jefferson Place (closest to rear of the 1300 blk of 18th St) said thanks, Palladium, The outdoor club noise has virtually ceased so clearly operators are getting the message. We hope they continue to comply.

Feb 25. Blogger IMBY took sound level readings that match ours. From which he opines that:

DCRA officials will find it difficult to keep clubs to a 60 decibel noise limit when the city itself is several times louder to begin with. When the silence required by DC statutes is broken by every passing car, conversation, or sneeze–none of which are covered in the regulations or can be controlled by a nightclub–then the statute becomes unenforceable.
which ignores the real problem - amplified music in outdoor space - that is the clearly distinguishable source of the residents' complaints. No police or ABRA official will have any trouble hearing that source - and if it is detectable from the street or the alley, it is too loud for a 60dB limit. The other noises are not directly created by any one business and the residents are not appealing for relief from them. The loud outdoor music, that creates the low frequency thumping drum that penetrates walls, is not necessary for patrons to enjoy music with their alcohol because the interior of the club has plenty of loud thumping music. A reasonable city does not allow business to impose every imaginable insult on residents in the name of pure free-market liberty to extract profit.  IMBY's enthusiasm for unchecked capitalism also overlooks a fundamental rights principle: your right to swing your arms ends at your neighbor's nose. 

Feb 19. Mayor's office promises enforcement in e-mail to DCnightlifenoise.

Feb 18. Press release on testimony before ABRA Oversight Hearing Feb 19.

Feb 18. Letter to ABRA Director Moosally on priorities for ABRA regulation of nightlife noise, as requested by Moosally on Feb 3.

Feb 16. Palladium resident reps and all three bars, including their two acoustics consultants, in the 1300 Block of Conn Ave, did a joint noise mapping of the area where residents are affected by the bars' bass-dominated music. At 8 PM on Sunday evening when bars in the area are quiet, and streetnoise was minimal (little traffic and no shouting drunks). Enough definitive data was gained that the bars know what they have to do to either contain their music or to lower its internal volume. All three jointly agreed to work on the solution and reach agreement with the nearby residents.   That should lead to Settlement Agreements that allow the clubs to entertain and residents to sleep. 

Feb 9, 10PM, Sunday night.  boom, boom, boom bass music beat in bedroom with double windows. Club Central has little traffic and only a few people, three bars are operating. Where's the nmusic coming from? Unclear from the street. Sound readings in Jefferson Place alley show 70dB(A) and 84 db(C), which means the low beat is coming from 18th Street Lounge since the other candidates are either closed or buttoned up. The 84 explains the penetration of double windows and walls 600 feet away; low frequency penetrates walls. The ambiguity in the street provides a cover for agencies wanting to avoid prosecuting noise law offenders, which is why the laws need to be enforced diligently and accurately.

Feb 4. Press release on meeting with Fred Moosally, ABRA Director

Feb 3. Palladium residents Group of Five withdrew its protest of Public Bar's license renewal after seeing the noise containment measures by Public in a visit in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and ABRA mediation.

Feb 3. Nightlife Noise Coalition group met with ABRA Director Fred Moosally to deliver a letter demanding enforcement of noise laws and rules in Club Central. Moosally promised action. See report in Spotlight on Officials

Feb 2. At the invitation of part-owner John Gliatis, three reps from Palladium toured Public Bar in Club Central at 1AM to see the noise control measures. The crowded interior was LOUD (up to 110 db(C), which gives more weight to lower frequencies), in keeping with the apparent marketability of loud thumping music. But outside on 18th St and on the roof deck and fire escape in the rear (above the alley between Jefferson Place and M Street) the sound from Public was well within guidelines. It could not be actually measured because the pounding music from 18th Street Lounge roof deck next door overwhelmed it. Public's suppression measure was quite simple: it hung a sheet curtain of clear plastic between the main club and the roof deck that effectively contained the loud inner music enough that a normal conversation could be had on the deck. That the deck was crowded attests to the idea that some of the customers, at least some of the time, wanted escape from the music. Those measures could be a model for Settlement Agreements that give the club liberty to play music as loud as the customers demand and leave the nearby residents to sleep.