Please, please stop Standing By Me.
July 12, 2009 1:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I get my neighbor to stop playing Stand By Me on repeat at ear-splitting volumes?

I live in a crowded urban neighborhood in Los Angeles. Picture "Do the Right Thing" or "Westside Story" or something.

the windows of my apartment face an alley, and every Sunday afternoon, someone in one of the adjacent apartments plays the song "Stand By Me" on repeat for several hours at what I would describe as "block party" volume levels. The person is clearly pressing the track buttons on their stereo, not actually setting it to repeat -- once in a while they go back in the middle of the song or shortly after the next song (a Liberace-ish piano ballad - Yanni?) starts.

This has been going on for months now.

It is July in LA, and closing the windows isn't really an option (and doesn't help that much, honestly, it's really loud).

I don't know exactly what apartment it's coming from (several buildings face mine directly and the alley is smallish , so the source of sound is tough to judge).

What can I do?

I have lived in an urban environment like this my whole life -- I am used to the sounds of the city. This, though, is insane. I actually think that the person is mentally ill or something. But it's SO LOUD! And my poor wife is trying to study for the bar, and has to wear earplugs.

I've yelled out the window already, so we know that doesn't work :).
posted by YoungAmerican to Society & Culture (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could ask them to turn it down.

You could call the cops.
posted by Flunkie at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2009

Stereo war! Blast 'Heavy-Metal' at a higher volume!
posted by ericb at 1:59 PM on July 12, 2009

Best answer: At least try to go through the proper channels.
LA has a Noise Enforcement Team:
Noise Enforcement Team (NET)

The Noise Enforcement Team (NET) is a Department unit comprised of specially trained officers deployed Citywide to aggressively enforce the Los Angeles Noise Ordinance. These officers utilize specialized equipment to monitor noise complaints where the situation is ongoing, aggravated, or where voluntary compliance cannot be achieved.

Aggravated and ongoing noises are those that are generated or controlled by people, and have not been resolved through routine police enforcement. Usually they require special expertise and equipment to determine whether a violation exists or infringes upon constitutional guarantees, such as free speech.

In the event of an aggravated or on-going noise problem, officers should notify NET at Traffic Coordination Section, for enforcement advice. The following information will be needed when contacting NET:

▪ type of complaint (trash truck, rehearsal hall, bar),
▪ complaint location,
▪ hours of occurrence,
▪ days of the week,
▪ complaining party (name, address, and telephone number), and
reporting district.

All calls to NET should be made during normal business hours at 213-847-3398.
112.01 LAMC- Radios, Television Sets, and Similar Devices

▪ Operating any radio, television, phonograph, musical 'instrument, or other sound producing device;
▪ Audible to the human ear at a distance in excess of 150 feet from the property line of the noise source;
▪ In a residential zone or within 500 feet thereof;
▪ In such a manner as to disturb the peace, quiet, and comfort of neighboring residents or any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area.

16.01 LAMC- General Noise

▪ Willfully making or causing to be made or continued;
▪ Any loud, unnecessary, and unusual noise;
▪ Which disturbs the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area.

Note: In determining whether or not a noise violates this section, officers should consider the following factors:
▪ Level of the noise;
▪ Nature of the noise (usual or unusual );
▪ Origin of the noise (natural or unnatural );
▪ Level and intensity of any background noise;
▪ Proximity of the noise to sleeping facilities;
▪ Nature and zoning of the area;
▪ Density of inhabitation in the area;
▪ Time of day or night the noise occurs;
▪ Duration of the noise;
▪ Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant;
▪ Whether the noise is produced by commercial or non-commercial activity.

Seem to be the relevant bits of LA's noise ordinances.
posted by carsonb at 1:59 PM on July 12, 2009

So yeah, call your local precinct. And if they can't or won't do anything about it, then give the NET a ring.
posted by carsonb at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2009

I would describe as "block party" volume levels

I know it sounds silly to call the cops because someone is playing "Stand By Me," but the volume justifies it. I wouldn't even mention the song title to the cops.
posted by mullacc at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2009

Or if you want to Do The Right Thing, find out whose house it is and leave them a polite but pointed note. If you know any other neighbors annoyed by the music, then get a few extra signatures as well.
posted by ageispolis at 2:09 PM on July 12, 2009

Send them a note. Something to the effect of, "Hi Neighbor, I am in my apartment, trying to read my favorite Stephen King novel, "The Body" (maybe you've heard of it?), but I can't hear myself think. Could you please turn it down a notch?"
posted by iamkimiam at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't know if it's necessarily The Right Thing to leave a note. It doesn't take a brainiac to know that playing a stereo past a certain volume is reeeeaaallly rude. Especially living in apartments. I would go straight to calling law enforcement for the sake of anonymity.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:25 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

...and safety.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I jumped a couple of fences and figured out what's up.

It's a dance class, with some fifteen year old-ish kids. I asked the instructor if he could turn it down, he gave me a curt nod and did nothing. So I said, "No, really. I live up there, and it's really, really loud." And he turned it down one notch and turned away from me.

I'd hate to call the cops on dance class, but that doesn't make it any less insane.
posted by YoungAmerican at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: It's all big apartment buildings, a note isn't really an option, short of going around the block and trying to find the manager of the building.
posted by YoungAmerican at 2:27 PM on July 12, 2009

Well, now that you know, you should go back at an off-hour, when a class isn't currently in progress, and have a real dialogue.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Cool Papa -- I don't even know if they live there. As I said: big apartment buildings, 50+ apartments in each.
posted by YoungAmerican at 2:32 PM on July 12, 2009

The class has to end at some point. Is there any reason why you can't wait for the class to be over and talk to the teacher then?

That being said, the fact that it's a dance class shouldn't have any impact at all in what you decide to do. Loud music that's messing with your life in this way shouldn't be tolerated. If anything, the fact that it's a business should make you more likely to call the cops. It also lets you give the police more information, since I'll assume the class is at regular times so you can tell them when the class meets.
posted by theichibun at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yup, call the cops/noise ordinance people (here in Jersey, the Department that oversees environmental protection has an arm that deals with noise pollution). Most noise ordinances deal more harshly with businesses than with residences.

Inform the cops that you've politely requested that the noise volume be lowered, but that your request(s) were ignored. In Jersey, the noise pollution law provides for a $3,000 civil penalty against businesses that create and fail to mitigate noise that encroaches upon a residence; the fine is assessed once for every day that the noise remains unmitigated.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 2:57 PM on July 12, 2009

> It's all big apartment buildings, a note isn't really an option, short of going around the block and trying to find the manager of the building.

What's wrong with doing that? I have a problem here like that (not dance class, but similar) and the condo association is going to get a letter from me because I can't get to the individual in charge of the specific apartment unit.

It sounds in your case like someone's running a business out of their home, right? There must be rules and permits around that, since it's a business that is not just one quiet worker but rather something affecting its surroundings.

I really sympathize, because while most people would cope by turning on their own noise to block other people's noise out, those of us who require quiet for what we're doing don't have that easy way out. (Earplugs aren't always adequate, as I'm sure you have found out.)
posted by Listener at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2009

I'd hate to call the cops on dance class, but that doesn't make it any less insane.

What other option do you have? If the instructor was open to talking to you about it, he'd have turned the volume down right away and/or could have said "Class ends in half an hour, come back and we'll chat."
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2009

I figured it had something to do with music lessons. Someone's gotta take a stand, and your neighbors might be too meek to do so, so do it for the people. It might've been a better approach to get across to the instructor that you're not the only one who has to put up with it (and who knows what crazy things someone else might do to alleviate the situation).

Call the cops/NET people. It's their job to deal with this sort of thing, even if it's for something well-intentioned. And since the instructor won't necessarily know you called them, it's not like he can have his class egg your windows.

I find it somewhat amusing that the host of "The Sounds of Young America" is having trouble putting up with, well, the sounds of young Americans. :) And Ben E. King.

"I said Maximum FUN, not maximum volume!!"

posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2009

Dance class or no, it's their responsibility. Someone made the choice to have the class there, in a residential area, so they have the responsibility to their neighbors. If not in a legal sense, then at least they should have the courtesy to consider how loud it is. If the noise continues, I would've have any qualms at all about calling the cops. Besides, they don't have to have it up to 11 to dance; they just wanna rock out. But they can still practice if it's down lower. Don't back down.
posted by zardoz at 8:34 PM on July 12, 2009

I will cross my fingers that the offending party is the grifter in your building, thus killing two birds with one stone.
posted by SassHat at 8:38 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you have to escalate: get the MP3 of it and resample it to 3/2 current speed. Insert gaps--the ice-cream van sound is ideal--to resync it every so often. Get an amplifier and a rock concert-level speaker or two from a secondhand store or borrow them from a friend. Any time it comes on, play it at least twice as loud as they play theirs.

They'll get the point.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:10 AM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

It doesn't take a brainiac to know that playing a stereo past a certain volume is reeeeaaallly rude.

You'd be surprised, I've encountered people who just fundamentally don't understand this concept. They're the same type who also get indignantly angry when you ask them (no matter how politely) to quiet down. As if you're the one causing the problem.

It's amazing how one toxic neighbor can annoy an entire building.
posted by jsonic at 10:47 AM on July 13, 2009

Response by poster: In case anyone is reading this post-facto, you can file a noise complaint in LA by calling 311. It seems to have worked, at least today.
posted by YoungAmerican at 5:52 PM on August 2, 2009

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