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>>I can tell you that when I approached the Speaker of the
> B.C. parliament to propose that he institute volume guidelines
> for events on the grounds, he told me that he felt any such
> limitations would be regarded as an infringement on free speech.<
Free speech works two ways and that loud music often infringes on the
rights of others who must go indoors or further from the source of the
noise in order to exercise their right to free speech.
It has always appeared to me that politicians and lawyers don't like to be
pioneers or delve into eareas "where few have gone before." Often the best
way to get them to give some thought to (what to them is) a new idea or new
law is to cite a precedent or two. In Palo Alto, CA, the ordinance that
addresses outdoor amplified performances states, "Sound performances and
special events NOT EXCEEDING EIGHTY db(A) measured at a distance of fifty
feet are exempt from this chapter when approval therefor has been obtained
............" They have, then, set a limit on the sound level to protect
the free speech of those nearby who are not involved with the event.
They even go further and state, "OPEN AIR LOUDSPEAKERS - The use of
electronic equipment, including but not limited to amplifiers, radio
loudspeakers, phonographs, tape amplifiers, electronically operated musical
instruments or other devices of like design used for producing sound in or
upon any public street, park or grounds, or any other open area to which
the public has access, WHETHER PUBLICLY OR PRIVATELY OWNED, between the
hours of eleven p. m. and one hour after sunrise is unlawful."
These are among many precedents being gathered to present to the local city
council when they hold hearings to revise the local noise code. I find the
restrictions placed on private property by the Palo Alto council to be a
most enlightened and courageous piece of noise legislation.
Other precedents to be offered are the section of the Chicago code dealing
with "boom cars" and sections of the Rutgers Model Noise Ordinance dealing
with "personal vehicular music amplification."
If they won't be leaders in noise legislation, perhaps the local politicos
will at least be brave enough to follow in the footsteps of others.
STEPHEN O. FRAZIER
Writing at 2:59:32 PM on 12/19/97
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