I would like to know if there are any other people in the greater Grand Rapids area that are concerned about the noise level that a small but significant group of vehicles cause. In particular, I am amazed at how many pickups have very loud exhaust levels, and how the drivers accentuate the noise by their driving habits. I would like to go before the city council, as I have already tried the police department with no results, but I am curious if I am the only one that thinks there is a problem. There is a noise ordnance in Grand Rapids and the state of Minnesota, but it is apparently not being enforced here. I would be willing to help in anyway I could to reduce this problem. Another noise concern I have is how loud some drivers play their stereo's. It is not uncommon for me to hear their music from several blocks away. What makes it more amazing is that I have lost a good share of my hearing ability.
There are a number of areas in the City of Grand Rapids' ordinances where loud noise is addressed. The primary one is in Article III (Offenses Involving Public Peace and Order): Sec. 42-71. Generally. No person shall make, or aid in making, or in any manner assist in making, or cause or induce any other person or persons to make or aid in making any loud noise, riot, public disturbance, or any breach of the peace. (Code 1978, § 42.02) Sec. 42-72. Vehicle noise limits for electronically amplified sound. No motor vehicle shall emit any electronically amplified sounds that are plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the vehicle, provided that this section shall not apply to: (1) Sirens, horns or other signaling devices used by an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in Minn. Stat. § 169.01; (2) Vehicles in parades or other civic celebrations duly authorized by the city; (3) Motor vehicle horns when actually used as a warning of danger; (4) Anti-theft devices installed on motor vehicles. Another area has to do with driving practices: Sec. 66-71. Exhibition driving prohibited. No person shall turn, accelerate, decelerate or otherwise operate a motor vehicle within the city in a manner which causes unnecessary engine noise or backfire, squealing tires, skidding, sliding, swaying, throwing of sand or gravel or in a manner simulating a race. Squealing or screeching sounds emitted by tires, or the throwing of sand or gravel by the tires is prima facie evidence of a violation of this section. My experience on the city council was that the police department was always sympathetic to public complaints about violations and "keeping the peace." The issue is typically about catching the culprit and proving the violation and avoiding a "he said/she said" conflict that puts the department (and city attorney) in a difficult position to determine the "facts." Grand Rapids police chief Jim Denny is new this year and came from within the city's police ranks. So, he is busy getting his "legs" and trying to chart his department's course. That said, I know him to be very reasonable and willing to work with the public. Before one takes this issue to the council, I would suggest a meeting with the chief or his representative (not a patrol officer) to discuss what the problem is and how it could be solved. The key is to put yourself in their shoes (including the city attorney who may be called on if someone fights a ticket for a noise violation). What evidence could you provide as the witness, beside just your testimony (in a court of law), to make the violator stop? In essence, that's what community policing is about - working with the professionals to help them do their job better to the benefit of the entire community!
I have a hard time believing we should be really strict on vehicle noise levels when we force trains to blast their horns at every intersection at 2am waking me up consistently, and I constantly have listen to Blandin making ridiculous noises some mornings also when normal people are sleeping. I measured noise levels from Blandin one morning at 3:30 am at 83 decibels, about the same level as a rock concert at that same distance which is about 5 blocks away. I do get annoyed by vehicular noises, in the summer it's mostly motorcycles but I would prefer to do something about noise that causes people (particularly ME) to lose sleep. Just my 2 cents
We discussed this issue at the July 12 Council meeting, and the Police Department explained that the challenge in enforcing existing ordinances related to vehicle noise is primarily a matter of assembling sufficient evidence to cite the violator. The police will issue a citation when they observe a vehicle violating the noise ordinance, and they will respond to complaints from neighbors about habitual violators of the noise ordinance. As Dan Erkkila mentioned in his post a few weeks ago, to be as effective as practical, the police department needs the cooperation of an engaged community. I appreciate Gary raising this issue; other residents have chimed in about this, and the police department remains aware that residents are concerned.