Let's Get Some P & Q on U (Street)!!
Let's Get Some P & Q on U (Street)!!
Why this petition matters
- Tired of our neighborhood sounding like a movie set for Fast and the Furious Part 22, due not just to the ATV's and dirt bikes, but also because of vehicles that are actually licensed (and can therefore be tracked)?
- Sick of U Street turning into a drag strip, even on weeknights, due to vehicles with illegally modified mufflers creating noise POLLUTION?
- Not liking the idea that one jerk on a moped with an altered muffler can wake up you and the rest of the neighborhood?
- Wondering why YOU are being forced to wear earplugs or don’t want to open your windows (and are therefore running your AC more; this is great if you like global warming!) due to all of the street noise?
- Thinking about leaving or not visiting the neighborhood due to all of the noise? Or are you a businessperson worried that all of the noise is going to drive away customers?
Let’s face it: DC’s streets have gotten louder since before the COVID pandemic; both NBC4 and the New York Times have documented this phenomenon in the localities that they cover. This happened as people in quarantine (ie with a lot of free time on their hands) removed their factory-installed mufflers and replaced them with mufflers that are actually designed to make MORE noise POLLUTION.
Did you know that altering vehicle mufflers this way is illegal in DC? That’s right, per DC noise regulations, Title 20, Section 2812:
--No person shall modify or alter the exhaust system of a motor vehicle or motorcycle in a manner that will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the vehicle above the level permitted under 2811 [more on this below] of this chapter.
--No person shall use or operate a motor vehicle or a motorcycle having an exhaust system that has been modified or altered in a manner that will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the vehicle above the level permitted under 2811 of this chapter.
So the law is pretty clear, but did you also know that DC government currently has no way to enforce these rules on the streets?
Unfortunately, Title 20, Section 2811 referred to in the above is chock full of decibel limits that must be measured using a decibel measuring device---MPD doesn’t have any---and under what seem to be very specific conditions. So basically, MPD is powerless to prevent people from using their vehicles to ruin your peace and quiet!
Before we talk about how to solve this problem, let's talk about what this petition is NOT about:
- The presence of ATV's and dirt bikes on our streets, which MPD is currently powerless to do anything about (apparently until somebody gets killed or seriously hurt).
- Encouraging MPD to engage in chases against any vehicles.
- Noise from businesses and music venues in our neighborhood, nor musicians performing on the area's streets.
- Noise from fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars.
- Drivers of vehicles with outdated or damaged mufflers who cannot afford to fix their cars.
- Gentrification; anyone who has lived here since before summer 2020 will tell you that noise from vehicles in this area has increased exponentially, so this problem has nothing to do with "gentrifiers" moving in and then complaining. This noise POLLUTION affects residents both new and old; Black and White; rich and poor.
- Lastly, note that we are only asking for SOME peace and quiet; we realize that we are in a city and what some may consider an "entertainment district," so there will always be some noise, but this is ALSO a residential area full of DC taxpayers and there needs to be some recognition of that.
What can be done about this? We are urging City Council members whose wards include U Street or nearby areas to look into creative ways to curb this problem, such as:
--Having MPD purchase decibel measuring devices or, alternatively, allow MPD officers to judge excessive noise levels emitted by vehicles, which some states permit. This way, they could potentially ticket vehicle owners who have already been pulled over for a separate offense.
--Allowing MPD and/or DC parking enforcement officers to ticket parked vehicles with altered exhaust systems.
--Looking into sound-activated “noise cameras” that act like DC’s speed cameras, but for vehicles that have been altered to make extra noise.
--Figuring out how DC-registered vehicles with illegally altered mufflers are able to pass DC DMV inspections.
You don't have to roll over and take this or move out of your current neighborhood, so please sign now!
What can you do about it then?
- Sign the petition---and make sure to include your city, state, and ZIP code! DC City Council members will be far likely to take this petition seriously if they can see that people signing this are actually DC residents.
- If you are interested in helping, please email SomePandQonU@gmail.com, share this link for the petition https://www.change.org/SomePandQonU, and/or use the hashtag #somepandqonu.
- Another thing you can do is to call the City Council member for your Ward and the four at-large members of City Council. (If you don't know which ward you are in, click here; if you need the contact info for any of these members, click here)
I would put my own name down as the creator of this petition, however, I don't want owners of these vehicles doing donuts in front of my building to harass me and therefore make my block even louder! Sad but necessary. :(
That said, I have lived in this neighborhood for almost a decade and love it, but the noise from these mufflers is just too much and is DEFINITELY a new problem here.