2002-10-16 / Editorials


Silent Night: A Quiet Blessing

Last week Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a giant step toward improving the quality of life in New York City with the implementation of Operation Silent Night.

Under the aegis of this plan, 24 high-noise zones have been identified throughout the city. In Queens, Shore Boulevard from Ditmars Boulevard to Astoria Park South and a stretch of Newtown Road have been designated as major noise areas. Enforcement measures will vary in each location—others across the city include Greenwich Village in Manhattan, Soundview in The Bronx, Flatbush in Brooklyn, and St. George, Staten Island—but will involve noise meters, vehicle checkpoints, monitoring intersections, towing vehicles, confiscation of audio devices, summonses and arrests.

We heartily endorse the mayor's decision to crack down on this major problem besetting the city. We're not the only ones enthused about it, either. According to published reports, as of the first nine months of this year, 93,000 noise complaints were received by the Police Department quality of life hotline—more than all other complaints put together.

While it's easy to dismiss a noise complaint as the carping of some hypersensitive individual, we know from experience that those 93,000 calls weren't all about crying babies or the occasional loud party. Noise complaints center on the things that drive us all crazy because there seems to be no letup—so-called "boomer cars," night spots that play music at volumes that could crack concrete and do so well into the wee hours and motorcycles raced incessantly on streets that were never meant to serve as race courses are a few that come to mind.

The metropolitan area has been celebrated in song and story as the city that never sleeps and for the most part we like it that way. Total silence would indicate the absence of life altogether. Some districts keep going all night long and there's every reason they should. However, this is also a city of neighborhoods populated by working people, children who have to get up for school in the morning and assorted other individuals who just plain don't appreciate car stereos that shake the very foundations of their homes and businesses, loud music at all hours and other unwelcome indications that someone is thinking of no one but themselves.

Operation Silent Night is not meant to shut down New York City. It is meant to make this a more livable place for everyone. If the noise level goes down, perhaps we can hear ourselves think. And if we can hear ourselves think, perhaps our cogitations will ultimately lead us to find some answers to some of the city's other problems. Operation Silent Night represents a good start.

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