Proposed noise legislation in TX

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert_Z, Feb 2, 2003.

  1. Robert_Z

    Robert_Z Screenwriter

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    http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ Go here then enter HB 223 in the search window.

    This is for the fellow Texas folks on this board. I have limited experience with a sound level meter, so I am not sure how loud 65dB really is. But my initial reaction is that a maximum of 65 dB is overly restrictive, especially for those of us with HTs. Currently, in regard to disorderly conduct, the Texas penal code says "a noise is presumed to be unreasonable if the noise exceeds a decibel level of 85 after the person making the noise receives notice from a magistrate or peace officer that the noise is a public nuisance."

    So the proposed legislation seems to be dropping acceptable noise levels from 85dBs to 65dBs. Correct? If so, and if you are against this as a home theater enthusiast, you may consider contacting your legislators to oppose this bill. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm.

    (The rest of this is my own story regarding noise and disturbing others.)

    For people whose HT is in a house, rather than a duplex/condo/apartment, this may not really matter. But if you have to share a wall/floor/ceiling with anyone, this may be of particular interest. I currently live in a duplex with no common walls (carport and utility room in between), but our attics are connected, so we can hear each other when we crank it up. Fortunately, my neighbor is easy-going like me, so when he plays his loud, I can hear it but don't complain, and vice versa.

    But he recently told me he may move out, and I fear the new neighbors will be noise-sensitive...and that could lead to ugliness. [​IMG] I went through hell as an apartment dweller, living in an older apt with an upstairs neighbor who would bang the floor when ONLY my TV volume was set at 8 on a scale from 0-50. He was insane, and I would hate for the law to give him greater legal right to complain when a neighbor is enjoying himself, in the privacy of his own place, at reasonable volumes that may be a bit loud to some but definitely not obnoxious. I am a law-abiding citizen, but passage of this law could make me a criminal.
     
  2. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    this thread has the potential to get ugly. I'll be brief.
    your right to watch movies does not extend to disturbing others. In short, if they can hear your shit, turn it down. Why is this so difficult?

    if people used a little common sense and consideration for their neighbors, the law wouldn't be needed, would it?
     
  3. Robert_Z

    Robert_Z Screenwriter

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  4. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Here's a representative table I found online:

    Reference Sound Levels

    Noise source (distance) Sound level (dB)

    Commercial Jet take off (200 ft) 120 dB
    Rock Music Concert 110 dB
    PWC - Jet ski (82 ft) 105 dB
    Ambulance Siren (100 ft) 100 dB
    Lawn mower (3ft) 100 dB
    Motor Cycle (25 ft) 90 dB
    Diesel Truck, 40 mph (50 ft) 90 dB
    Vacume Cleaner (3 ft) 70 dB
    Freeway Traffic (50 ft) 70 dB
    Normal conversation (5 ft) 60 dB
    Light traffic (100 ft) 50 dB
    Bird calls (distant) 40 dB
    Living room, bedroom 40 dB
    Library soft whisper (15 ft) 30 dB
    Broadcast Studio 20 dB

    It looks like using a vacuum cleaner or driving on the freeway will be illegal in TX. And it's not clear what the property line means: the wall to your neighbor's apartment, or the apartment building's lot line?
     
  5. John Giddens

    John Giddens Stunt Coordinator

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    To give you an idea of what 65 dB's is there's a list of various sound levels found at http://www.netvista.net/~hpb/dblevels.html.

    In my opinion 65 dB's is too low. That's 5 dB's below Freeway traffic (at 15 meters), and a vacuum cleaner. But I also agree with Philip_G that a little common sense and consideration for your neighbors should be a golden rule.

    Funny thing about Texas public nuisance laws is they are not uniform in coverage. I live in a Suburb of Fort Bend county, and one night one of my neighbors decided to have a party so big he didn't have room in his house for all of his guest. There was music so loud it was shaking my windows and this was five house's down from me. And to top it off festivities didn't end till 4 AM. So naturally I called the cops and guess what, since I live in the "county" versus the "city" there's no noise ordinance. I finally did get the sheriff's dept. out for the people drinking alcohol wandering up and down the street but that didn't do a thing. I could do nothing to put an end to it.

    I'll get off my soap box and conclude this with, IMHO if it's past the evening news and your next door neighbor can hear your tunes, movie, ETC. then you should turn it down. Unfortunately this will vary depending on if you live in an apartment with your next door neighbors sharing your walls, versus living in a house with some space between you and your next door neighbor.
     
  6. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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  7. Robert_Z

    Robert_Z Screenwriter

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  8. RossTerry

    RossTerry Guest

    i doubt it will pass
     
  9. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    From the bill in the residential property section-
     
  10. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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  11. Paul Bond

    Paul Bond Stunt Coordinator

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    Should you get new neighbors, make it a point to drop by and meet them. Make nice and all that, and then just discuss the sound thing with them. Explain how the walls are okay, but some sound travels through the attic. Let them know that you don't want your music and/or movies disturb them (and vice-versa) and than once they are settled in, you would like to run some volume tests to know what is acceptable for all. Also, you can discuss quiet and noisy hours.

    Heck. They might be HTF folks too or wannabes, and you will be able to show off your set and make some new movie friends. (At least until they borrow your favorite movie and return it with scratches and strawberry jam on it so you key their car to get even and then they deface the front of your place and then you call the pound on their cat and he gets put to sleep so they poison your dog and then you get a gun and...huff puff...and...uh....well.....
    nevermind.)
     
  12. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    I’ve been outside my house with my SPL meter to check the sound level when loudly playing movie soundtracks, but didn’t need to use it. With the windows and doors closed, you can’t hear it at the front door and you have to have your ear on the door itself to hear it at the back door. At the property lines, it is totally inaudible. So except for the 30 seconds it might take for me to open and close a door while something is playing inside, for a neighbor to hear my HT at all, they either have to be an invited guest inside the house – or trespassing!

    It was a lot different living in an apartment in grad school. An older retired couple lived next door and really cranked up their TV during the evening when I was trying to study. So to counter that distraction, rather than complain, I turned up some classical music to mask their noise. Unfortunately, they’d turn off their TV and go to bed at unpredictable times (usually earlier than 10 PM) and then they were bothered because I was “playing music way too loud”. I got a call from the building superintendent one evening at about 9:30 PM telling me of their complaint and I invited him to come up to talk about it. Once inside my place, he told me he could not hear the music until I opened the door. But the neighbors’ headboard was against the wall where my main speakers were and the sound carried through that wall. I told him why I had the music on in the first place and said if they would only tell me when they were turning in for the night, I’d turn off the music immediately – easier to study without it anyway. But they refused, saying it was an invasion of their privacy to tell a young whippersnapper what time they were going to bed.

    With that, the super reminded me and the neighbors that we had the right to play our TVs or music as loud as we wanted until the building curfew of 10:30 PM and then according to the lease, our TV or stereo couldn’t be audible in anyone else’s apartment. So from then on when I studied at home, I played my masking music until about 10:27 PM and then in honor of the retired Army sergeant next door, (a point he brought up several times in discussing the situation), I turned the speakers in their direction and played “Those Caissons Go Rolling Along” followed by the “Star Spangled Banner” at full blast, shutting down promptly at 10:30PM. Never heard about another complaint from them, either.

    The proposed Texas noise law brings to mind a situation a few years ago when an oil well drilling company leased the mineral rights under our subdivision (which is in Harris County, not the city) and set up a loud drilling rig that ran 24/7 a couple of blocks away. They held a meeting with the homeowners association to address the complaints about the constant noise, and the company rep told everyone it was a matter of economics – they had to run the equipment all the time to make any money off the project. When neighbors told them that their noisy operation was costing everyone in the neighborhood ever having a good night’s sleep and what about the economic implications of that, the company rep said it was their right to run their machinery whenever they wanted and there was nothing any of us could do about it regardless of the sound level. We were relieved when the well came up dry a few weeks later and they abandoned the site. Hopefully a new law would address future situations like that.

    An ordinance limiting the volume at a distance from “boom box” vehicles (mobile “auditory assault weapons”) :>) is already in effect on the streets of Houston. As for the proposed Texas noise abatement statute, having being awoken with extremely loud lawn maintenance equipment as early as 6 AM after not being able to get to sleep until 4 AM due to neighbor’s outdoor party music that registered about 75db inside my home, (which is louder than I play a lot of my music), I’d say SOMETHING limiting that is long overdue. But I’d want to see what the bill actually states. There is a big difference between noise level at the source and the noise level at a distance from the source and inside a neighboring structure such as a house. If the noise is too loud at the source, they need ear protection. If it is too loud inside my house (and especially at unreasonable hours) they need to tone it down.

    Of course, it is all a matter of common sense and courtesy among neighbors. But at some point, in the community at large, there has to be an objective agreed upon “standard” to determine what can and cannot be done so it is not a matter of whim of the moment or dependant on someone else’s good will when they decide NOT to be reasonable about it.
     
  13. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    OK -- I've read the bill as "introduced". (It will undoubtedly change before being enacted into law, if it makes it that far.) I'm still not absolutely sure where or how the sound levels will be measured in each instance cited in the language of the bill. In one case (car sound systems) they mention 50 feet away. But in other cases I don't see any such specification.

    Inside my home, being subjected to an 85 db level from outside noise would be unacceptable. But if they mean the other party cannot even play it at louder than 65 db, then it goes too far. If they mean outside noise can still be audible at 65 db inside my home, that's still pretty loud if it is coming from someone elses HT system or outdoor music source. But I can turn on my own system and mask that. (Tough if you want to take a nap, though.) :>) The wording of the bill still needs some work, IMO.
     
  14. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    If you read the bill there are a bunch of exemptions:

    Fireworks

    operating a mechanically powered saw, drill,
    sander, router, grinder, lawn or garden tool, lawnmower, or any other similar device after 7 a.m. and before 8 p.m. that does not exceed 85 decibels

    Are 2 that I found interesting.

    Thinking more about this I think its in response to some complaints about loud bands down on 6th and 4th street. I believe there have been some complaints recently. Noise ordinances like this are a good thing. Especially when they put in parts about noisy cars. With things like this there is always a question of enforcement. When it comes to noise coming out of homes its next to impossible to enforce.
     
  15. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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  16. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    As far as I can tell, the bill is worded such that the sound is measured at the offended party's property line nearest the source of the sound. I can't imagine a (gas powered) lawnmower that is quieter than 85 dB, and the list above says it is 100 dB at 3 feet. How are you supposed to mow the grass at the very edge of your property adjacent to your neighbor without spilling 100 dB across the line? Keep it in mind if your neighbor wants to enforce the new law, just wait until he mows his grass and you can respond in kind.
     
  17. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Many palces have some sort of a noise ordinance in effect between 10 PM and 7 AM. It works in most cases. Usually for HT equipment, just engage the 'loudness' button at ten, or start the movie earlier! [​IMG]

    Glenn
     
  18. Robert_Z

    Robert_Z Screenwriter

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    Uh-oh. UH-OH!. [​IMG]

    I can hear my neighbor's stereo. WHAT IS HIS MAJOR MALFUNCTION??? Geez, he must be a real a**hole. Right? Hmmm. NOT! [​IMG] I am glad for him that I am a tolerant, understanding and considerate person.

    I learned similar legislation was proposed last session and did not make it out of committee. Here's to hoping for another quick end to this awful bill. [​IMG]
     

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