screaming kids on the street too noisy, any code in NYC?
July 23, 2014 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Recently there is this family brings their super noisy kids(about 5-6) to run and scream on the street infront of my apartment everyday from 6pm-10pm. The street is in a quite neighborhood, there are families, but I never hear or saw a single kids making such noise outside of there home on the street. One day I went down and talked to the parent and kids, that they shouldn't make noise like this, but they didn't listen and was quite rude, both the parent and the unruling kids. I really can't take this, it's extremly noisy, the screaming can't be stopped by closing my windows and putting on earplugs, not to mention it's hot summer that I need a little bit of breeze and peace in the evening at home. What Can I do? this is in NYC, is there any code for noisy street kids? thanks!
posted by pack2themoon to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could call 311 and ask what to do, but summer in New York is nuts and hot and loud, and this seems like par for the course. Can you get a window unit, or a fan, and crank that up to mask the sound?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:39 PM on July 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

You could try filing a 311 noise complaint- You can make a complaint about non-emergency noise from your neighbor. Non-emergency noise includes loud music or television, talking, and moving or dragging of furniture. Your precinct may respond, or not (we had an ongoing issue at one apartment and the police were little to no help), but even if they don't respond, at least you have a paper trail of your make you feel like you did something even if it didn't help at all. Do you know why they're playing in front of your building- do they know some of the neighbors? Maybe you could speak to them? Or the super?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:41 PM on July 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, the question is asking for possible approaches to improve the situation; "just deal" isn't really helpful.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:55 PM on July 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

NYC Noise code information. You'll note that nearly all sources of noise are permitted until 10pm.
posted by wrok at 6:57 PM on July 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding the suggestion for installing a window AC unit (or several), turning the fan up on high, especially on the window closest to the street where the children are playing, and closing the rest of your windows. This will keep your apartment cool, and reduce the noise heard from the street, though to what degree depends on your apartment.

What is the farthest point in your apartment from the street? Particularly if it's a room with no windows, that is probably your best bet for being the quietest spot in your apartment. If you can still hear the street noise from there, I suggest picking up some white noise machines, running them in that quietest room, and spending the majority of your time there.

Given that you've already had difficulty communicating with the family in question, I suspect getting the kids to play more quietly, especially before community "quiet hours," is going to be difficult, even if you call in noise complaints to the police. Your best bet is going to be creating a white-noise environment in your apartment to temper the street noise. It probably depends on your specific precinct, but noise complaints tend to fall pretty far down the priority list if something else is going on that requires more police attention.

Failing all of that, you're probably best off finding somewhere else to be during those hours, like a local library.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 7:16 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, I rent, and all rooms are facing street, except for the bathroom. The street is not without a few traffic at this hour, so it's alreay a lot of white noise. The kids' noise are of very high frequency, you can imagine, little kids(0-5 years I guess) screaming while running,bicycling and shouting to each other, my ac, fan, ear plug has little effect on this.
posted by pack2themoon at 7:24 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can get an Ultrasonic Teen Deterrent. It should work on younger kids too. It's not really ultrasonic, as it's using frequencies that younger ears can hear, but people over 30 probably can't. You can probably make it yourself by using a good stereo and speakers that can handle the range.
posted by Sophont at 7:27 PM on July 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

I would file a noise complaint. Seriously, every night.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:28 PM on July 23, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: wow, Sophont, that's a great invention! But seems I can't buy it anywhere. Thanks anyway : D
posted by pack2themoon at 7:46 PM on July 23, 2014

Best answer: -You could try to identify the attraction and get rid of it. A wider road? Park there. Grass? Fence it off. etc
-You could actively make the area unpleasant to play in. Blaring sirens or obnoxious music. A dedicated sound war for a week could send them someplace else the following week.
(I am not seriously suggesting this for children playing, I think) The Oklahoma! soundtrack once exorcised marichi music from my backyard. My father once set a bagpipe record on a loop and left town for the weekend. End of loud neighbor.
-You could engage the parents again in a friendly way. Bring down some snacks, get acquainted, learn something about them. Then you have standing to ask them to hold it down every now and then, as you are headed inside to do xxx quiet activity xxx.

We have a similar problem over my back fence. The folks there come from an area where people live in small spaces and a lot of life is lived outdoors. And the kids are definitely high pitched. They are having fun though and squeal and scream in short lived bursts so we tolerate it pretty well. MOST of the time. But I am not above yelling over the fence at kids either, and that has an effect, at least temporarily.

And I've also walked over to nicely ask if someone could please turn down the radio (it was blaring from the front door so he could hear it as he worked on the car.) and he was perfectly embarrassed and quick to turn in down.

So there's some ideas and stories. I do find that the human touch seems to work some and I end up feeling like a better human when I use it.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Play noisy offensive gangsta rap with lots of mutha f***ers and hoes and b***es and the parents will take the kids elsewhere.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:07 PM on July 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Depends on the family. They might want it turned up because it's their jam.

Maybe taped Billy Graham sermons would be effective in the alternative.
posted by jpe at 8:11 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What's attractive about being right in front of your house? Why are they picking right there vs a few houses down? What do you have there that the other houses don't? Like SLC Mom said, find out what it is and make it undesirable if you can.

Or, get a few friends together right before they show up. Bring chairs, coolers, and music to the street and take up space in a way that would be incredibly rude and inappropriate for the kids to interrupt. Do this a few times and hopefully the parents will find another place to take them.
posted by vivzan at 8:24 PM on July 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: thank you guys!

The answers above are really great suggestions, and gave me a lot of ideas alreay : P
posted by pack2themoon at 8:40 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: maybe you can try some different ear plugs.
posted by bq at 8:40 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, hey. I was a screaming NYC kid who played in the streets at night. We would spend every day cooped up in the apartment because it wasn't safe to go outside and play, and after dinner our Grandma would sit out on the stoop while me and the kids on the block played stickball in the streets, screamed "CAR!" whenever traffic approached and we'd clear to the sides. We screamed a LOT. We were happy.

Sometimes the FDNY would open fire hydrants for us to splash in.

I think once the ice cream truck came and it was the best night of our lives.

Nobody ever told us to be quiet and get back inside. We would have been devastated if they had. The apartment was small and hot and disgusting.

In the city, that's what kids do during the summer. Kids in NYC don't have many options to get outside and run around, screaming.

So there's that perspective. And I recognize you're looking for solutions and you're saying getting an A/C and closing your windows won't work. So you're stuck with it.

All I can suggest, if you have to keep your windows open, is to try to reframe your thinking. These kids are probably stir crazy nuts. They need to get outside and play. They're happy. They make happy kid noises. They're getting some air and running around. These are good things.

Maybe you can grab a chair, some bottles of water and snacks, and befriend the adult in the group. Get to know the kids. Bring chalk and make a hopscotch board and play with them. Make an effort to see them as valuable little people who also deserve some fresh air and exercise in the stink of a NYC summer.

I honestly don't think that calling 311 is going to do anything. Kids are allowed to be screechy and play.

It's an understood cultural norm for city kids. Yes, it's loud and annoying for you and probably other neighbors, but it's the cost of living in a hot, sticky, smelly city.
posted by kinetic at 6:01 AM on July 24, 2014 [38 favorites]

Best answer: Please, please do not buy some kind of noisemaker deterrent device.

A building near my apartment has one. I'm 29 and my partner is 31, we can both hear it, and it's awful. If someone in my building started trying to deploy something like this, I would file a noise complaint against them.

Also children who live in your building, adults with good hearing, and dogs don't deserve to be tormented either!
posted by inertia at 6:29 AM on July 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: How long have you lived in this neighborhood? Do any of your neighbors have a problem with this?

I ask because it's possible this is an accepted norm where you live. It's summer in the city, there are many many neighborhoods where this happens every day. I live on a street where there's yelling and outdoor music all day every day, and trying to complain about it would get me nothing but sideways glances. I would try to ascertain this before resorting to something that may alienate you from your neighbors, and possibly your local law enforcement.
posted by Smallpox at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The only way to deal with this is to either *create a neighboring attraction* or *become a worse nuisance*.

1. Sit on your stoop and smoke. Smoking is hated by parents and kids in NYC these days.

2. Sit topless on your stoop. It's legal for women to be shirtless in New York City! But no one will want their kids staring at a shirtless woman.

3. Have your own party in front of the building with lots of swearing. And cigars.

4. Put up signs in your front window that say things like "Fuck you, children."

5. Hire an ice cream truck every night and have them park on the next block.

The possibilities are limitless! And all probably terrible.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:08 AM on July 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

"Maybe you can grab a chair, some bottles of water and snacks, and befriend the adult in the group" sounds great. You'd still get noise but you're already getting noise. I would at least try heading out with a chair and a six-pack and stuff. You'd get out of your own presumably stuffy apartment. If you don't want to make small talk you could bring a magazine and be a person just hanging out, but the sharing of consumables would establish a bit of friendly-neighbourliness, which is something you might possibly eventually leverage. Unknown neighbour has no currency, angry neighbour has no currency, but friendly neighbour? That's a person you might happily shush the kids for on the odd night where you said you had a headache (or whatever) and hey for just tonight can they be shushed a bit, I know it's probably not going to totally work but oh man, my head, etc; see y'all soon, going back to bed.
posted by kmennie at 7:53 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: DO NOT use a high-frequency device - I can't believe we even have to say that. You would be torturing ALL kids, pets, and young people with good hearing in the vicinity. Soon you would have it taken away and possibly a window or two broken depending on your neighborhood. Don't do it.
posted by kalapierson at 3:01 PM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This is probably terrible advice, but what if you told them that you heard there was a sex offender living on the block, but that you didn't feel comfortable saying who it was... Maybe they'd make their kids play on a different block.
posted by parakeetdog at 6:11 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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