Noise Control Bill Moves One Step Closer to Enactment

Posted May 9, 2008 at 3:29pm

The D.C. Council last week gave a preliminary nod to a noise protection bill championed by residents of the H Street Northeast corridor.

The legislation, originally aimed at quieting down preachers at the corner of Eighth and H streets, limits noncommercial daytime speech to 70 decibels. The council passed the measure by an 8-5 vote, but under city rules, council members must approve it a second time before it can become law. That vote is likely to happen in June.

“We’ve got another hurdle with the second reading, but this was a big step,” said Dave Klavitter, a resident who worked on the bill with Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells (D).

The preachers the measure originally targeted have since moved to Gallery Place, but Klavitter said there still are occassional disturbances on H Street.

The bill was amended to allow higher volume in commercial areas. The amendment also establishes that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, not the police, will be responsible for measuring noise.

“There was some ongoing concern from a couple [council] members, so to keep the compromise together that amendment was necessary,” said Charles Allen, Wells’ chief of staff.

Councilmembers defeated another amendment mandating that noise be measured from inside a property — an amendment Klavitter said would have “effectively neutered the bill.”

Klavitter praised Wells and Allen for not giving up after the bill was tabled in February. “They’ve been true to their word, and they’re really looking out for their residents and constituents,” Klavitter said.

— Daniel Heim