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6 Common Noise Complaints in Brooklyn:Knowing Where to Kvetch is Half the Battle

Neighbors, Dogs, Construction Driving You Mad? Make a Complaint, Get 'Em Fined

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Noise Pollution the #1 Quality of Life Issue in Brooklyn

Street noise. Partying kids. Construction noise. Car alarms. Sometimes Brooklyn is just too darn loud. Noise complaints are the number one quality of life issue for New York City residents — and that includes Brooklyn.

But there's hope. Brooklyn residents should know that New York City has a "noise code." It became effective under NYC's Mayor Bloomberg back in 2007.

Noise Complaints Actually Have Teeth: Fines

And to drive home the fact that in a big city, we all have to compromise a little, the noise code is backed up by actual fines. For instance, a person who uses their mobile phone during a public performance can be fined $50. And if while riding your cool Ducati Monster 696 motorcycle, you make excessive vrmming noise and someone objects, you might get slapped with a fat fine of $800.

How Do I Make a Noise Pollution Complaint?

How do you make a noise complaint? In general, call 311 for noise complaints. However, in some cases you can kvetch online (by filling out a form), as noted below.

1. How Do I Report My Neighbor's Really Annoying Barking Dog?

Here's the rule of thumb: The NYC Noise Code says that it's a nuisance if a dog barks for 10 continuous minutes after 7AM and before 10 PM, or for five consecutive daytime minutes from 10 PM to 7AM.

Digitized Doggie Complaints

To complain, go online to fill out dog noise complaint form online . Within a week or so, the dog's owner will get a polite letter from the City of New York, with helpful hints on how to keep that dog from barking. Though you must be prepared to reveal where the dog lives, your own anonymity will be assured.

If the noise persists, and if you are lucky, the City may get around to doing a noise inspection, sometime in the next decade or so.

Fines for "permitting an animal to cause unreasonable noise" can range from $70 to a first offense to $140 for the third offense.

If the dog is howling because it's being abused, then make an animal abuse complaint, not a noise complaint.

2. How Do I Report a Loud Party That Goes On Too Long?

In Brooklyn, people party inside, and on rooftops, in back yards, and on the stoop! But if a party in a residential neighborhood is going on too long on a weekend, or too loud on a weeknight, then you have the right to call 911. Making a call to the "authorities" is probably safer than, say, walking over to a booze-fueled party in your pajamas to complain. And, cursing menacingly at the party-goers while hanging halfway out your window may be a tried-and-true Brooklyn tradition, but it is just so retro. Better, call 911 and let the NYPD deal with it.

If there is a raucous crowd of people hanging out on the street making a lot of noise, whether a flash-mob or a gang of high school prom-goers ignoring their parental curfews, you have the right to complain, again to 911.

Fines associated with "causing or permitting unreasonable noise, from 10 in the evening until 7 in the morning" can be $450 for the first offense, up to $1,350 for the third offense.

Note that drinking in public, which includes on the street and on the stoop, is not allowed in NYC, and is subject to a different fine schedule.

3. How Do I Report a Car Alarm That Won't Go Off?

Nothing can drive you nuts more than a wailing car alarm, especially when it starts screeching at 3 AM. You can call 911 or 311 to report this. You might not get fast action though, as the police consider this a non emergency call.

Note: Slashing the tires of a car with a persistent alarm will not stop the alarm sound.

4. How Do I Report Jackhammers & Other Unbearable Construction Noise?

Except for emergency work, construction is allowed between 7 AM and 6 PM on weekdays. Repairs to existing small homes (as opposed to building a new home) can be made on weekends, between 10 AM and 4PM — as long as the construction site is not too close to a house of worship (300 feet).

If you live or work near a construction zone, the constant hammering and vehicular noise can drive you nuts. Construction sites are supposed to use muffling technology. But if you think there's too much noise, especially on weekends and at night, call 311.

5. How Do I Report My Neighbor Who Is a Screamer or Plays Too Loud Music?

Noisy neighbors come in a few flavors: the weekend noisy, the occasionally noisy, and those who live in a Rambo-esque world of constant audio action.

The Big Apple is the city that never sleeps. And, residential noise complaints involve people from all walks: wanna be singers, elderly folks who blast their televisions, teens who play loud music you don't choose to hum along to, and families who seem to never talk, but only scream.

Whether the unmusical kid next door practicing Suzuki violin is making a noise nuisance might be a judgement call. But the insomniac upstairs who regularly rearranges her furniture at 3 AM might — if she awakens you — arguably be creating noise pollution.

Who should you complain to? Try the super if there is one, or a building association. Last recourse, call your local police precinct. They won't consider it an emergency, but when they have a moment they will stop in to have a word with your noisy neighbor.

Fines for "causing or permitting unreasonable noise (7AM to 10PM)" can run from $350 for the first offense to $1,050 for the third offense.

Note: If you're hearing screaming, fighting, gun shots or other violence, then, obviously, call the police emergency line, 911.

6. How Do I Complain About Helicopter Noise?

Brooklyn doesn't have a helicopter pad. But that doesn't mean there aren't helicopters! Helicopters that bother Brooklyites tend to belong to local news stations that are covering such fast breaking stories as a rush-hour traffic jam on the Prospect Expressway, or getting an aerial view of some iconic Brooklyn event like the 40,000 NY Marathoners spilling into Brooklyn over the Verrazano Bridge, or the colorful, mile-long carnivale known as the West Indian Labor Day Parade. Whatever. The persistent buzz of helicopters can wake babies, drive sane adults to the medicine cabinet, and make pets persnickety, too.

Helicopter headache is a sufficiently common problem that the City of New York has a specific noise complaint form you can fill out online: the helicopter noise complaint form.

7. Where Can I Learn More about NYC Noise Code and Noise Code Penalties?

The above are just some of the most popular noise complaints in Brooklyn and the Big Apple. Others include:

  • music from bars
  • noisy restaurants
  • commercial garbage collectors
  • city garbage trucks
  • boom boxes
  • motorcycles
  • power tools
  • food vendors
  • air circulation devices.

For more details see The NYC Noise Code.

For information on fines, see the NYC Noise Code Penalty Schedule.

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