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 residents
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.
Oct 21. Finally, a long postponed protest hearing on renewing
the license for Midtown nightclub. Midtown insisted on a simple
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 Martini.
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 balked
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 happen in
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 Oct 26,
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 applauded
Sep 18, 2015. New Noise Bill.
Committee Chair Orange released a new noise bill Nightlife Regulation
headed into committee markup Sep 21. It adopts the ABRA recommendations
of the July 9 hearing and states as its objectives:
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.
Jul 8. Press release Residents to Sound Off
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 law
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, explicit
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 asking the
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 Enactment,
Modification and Enforcement of a Community Noise Ordinance. Read the
suggested rules and the suggested language for the Orange bill.
May 29. A DC hotel blasted a near neighbor who said the hotel has
"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 its newly
sound-protected roofdeck. Unfortunately for their claims, it was
the only Club Central club operating at the time, which made a clear
test of its sound propagation into neighbors' residences. Both
Jefferson Row and Palladium condominium residents could hear it
One resident recorded it on video as evidence for the noise
the video. YouTube version.
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. Stein reviewed
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 as a
co-sponsor of Vincent Orange's new nightlife noise bill.
May 5. Since residents' noise complaints are mostly about
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.
Meeting with 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 complained
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 that
sound readings don't find violations because there is too much ambient
noise to find a 4 dB difference for any one club. Nevertheless,
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 ABC
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 and
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 be
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 business
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. Maybe
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 of music
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, and
Mayor's office for more excuses about what is not being done to
stop noise disturbances of residents near Club Central. Details soon.
Feb 20. “we are going force this issue to the forefront,” said
Councilman Orange as he recognized that we have a
problem with club noise enforcement. He is the only Councilmember
has actually come to Club Central on Saturday night to hear the
Feb 20. We testified on ABRA performance at end of marathon (8
hour) Oversight Hearing of Councilman Orange's Committee on business
stuff. About 100 citizens had their say for three minutes each.
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,
Nichols, Nelson. Sara
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 Rosenman testimony.
Feb 3. The ABC Board ruled that Bar Code (L Street NW) shall
not emanate noise that disturbs residents. Specifically, BarCode
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 & L
Streets. Read the Board
Jan 21. The ABC Board declared open season on the residents of a
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 no noise
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 make
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 operating
standards that are easy to enforce Read the Board
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 14
residents and citizen representatives and associations that are
disturbed by such noise. It asks specifically: 1) Host a
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 the
District’s current noise enforcement regime, identify model laws and
best practices, and draft recommendations for reform.;
4) Restructure the regulatory framework to ensure
that one agency is responsible for enforcing the noise law, and is held
accountable.; 5) Take immediate steps to improve enforcement. Read
the letter. Additional signers are welcome as members and
supporters of the DC Nightlife Nose Coalition.
Dec 15. The ABC Board referred a resident's noise complaint
(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 music.
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 Director, and
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 by
a resident group from the 600 block of Florida Ave NW.
Nov 19. ABC Board echoed the Ozio standard by banning amplified
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 on
Settlement Agreements with three
alcohol businesses in Club Central: Rosebar, Sauf Haus, and
Oct 5. Complaints about
the Sunday evening enforcement-free music
assault at least drew a police officer.
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
music into the nearby residences. 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 Read
18th St Lounge reached a Settlement Agreement with the residents of
Jefferson Row and
Sep 15. Necessary protest.
Dupont residents filed a
against the Sauf Haus license in the face of a large outdoor
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 from
city law allows near residentially zoned areas. ... More will be
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.
Aug 25. CityPaper article by
Perry Stein After Residents
Complain, Dupont’s Ozio
Forced to Limit Music on Its Roof
Aug 13. Residents lose. ABC
Board board threw out the resident's noise measurement because it
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.
Jun 25. New residents to
encroach on existing noisy
nightclubs. A new building at 13th & U NW feeds the argument
made by alcohol biz that
neighbors should live somewhere else which is being continually ignored
failure 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."
May 11. Adams
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 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 blogger Frymaster:
there may, in fact, be an
but handheld SPL meters on the sidewalk won’t find it. ... It’s the bass! Pro sound systems have
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.
Apr 28. 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 Palladium
to limit the noisy music from the roofdecks. Needs ABRA review.
Apr 13. Early Sunday
boom music from Dirty Martini. See two videos:
1. walking down the alley
from N Street, and 2. phoning
ABRA with the music playing behind the bar.
Apr 11. Dupont Circle
Citizens Association passed a
of support for the coalition.
Apr 10. Dirty Martini
protest hearing bans sound measurements.
So, the residents had to rely a broader provision of
the law of a number-free "noise disturbance."
Apr 7. ABRA issued an
advisory letter that
permits settlement agreements without protest. Letter to Cleveland Park
Apr 6. Dirty Martini pounds out the music early Sunday night
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
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 wrote the
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 starts its
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 fingers DCRA
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.
New noise enforcement action.
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.
Testifiers. February 19, four
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
Seneca's letter to Lucilius. (Seneca letter 56.1-2)