Noise Pollution

Fourth of July fireworks sent me into a tizzy when I was a kid. I remember hiding beneath my blankets trembling at the loud ka-booms.

To this day I don’t like beeping smoke alarms, yellers or loud movies. Even my ihome alarm clock, is set to a civilized volume to rouse me with Marvin Gaye’s honey voice. Get up, Get up, Get up, Get up! Let’s make love tonight. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up…

I love music. Almost as much as I love quiet.

Beverly Hills is rarely a quiet place though. Not only do medical and news helicopters buzz overhead, until recently, a Hollywood producer commuted from his Malibu home to his nearby studio piloting his own helicopter. Factor in diesel truck motors, leaf blowers and StarLine Bus Tours; it can get real noisy.




According to the Environmental Protection Agency, noise pollution affects millions of people.


By definition noise pollution is: “unwanted or disturbing sound.” That doesn’t refer to Mr. UnHollywood during a Yankees losing streak, either.

The human ear feels pain at 120-140 decibels, but prolonged exposure to noise over 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. My College guy and High School kid have suggested my nagging poses a health risk, as well. SHUT OFF THE COMPUTER! PICK UP YOUR SOCKS! TURN DOWN THE MUSIC!




photo courtesy Garrett Kaplan



Living in BH, I’ve learned one neighbor’s music is another neighbor’s noise.  Last year, these two camps approached Hatfield/McCoy proportions as the Beverly Hills City Council weighed in on what constitutes an acceptable noise level. After hearing hours and hours of citizens’ opinions, the council voted to clarify and update existing noise regulations: “amplified sound must be controlled so that it is not distinctly audible to neighbors between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. seven days a week.”

Council members urged residents to be considerate of their neighbors, which is a lovely idea. They also included penalties for violating the ordinance, an even lovelier idea. First offense will cost you a hundred bucks. Do it again, and it’s over two hundred. Hell-bent on being a party animal? Try $535.10.

There’s good reason to impose those fines. The Centers for Disease Control states noise pollution can cause hearing loss, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular problems and even adverse social behavior. Huh? So that’s why Lindsay Lohan is always appearing at the Beverly Hills Courthouse.

The real key to fighting noise is to make some. Since Ronald Reagan de-funded the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC), full responsibility for handling noise rests on the state and community level. If you suffer from an aural onslaught, contact your local representatives.









Sunday morning on our walk, I didn’t wear headphones. Traffic was at a lull, bumblebees buzzed from bud to bud and the wild parakeets that live in the Palms tweeted back and forth. Of course, it’s never completely quiet in any urban setting, but it was peaceful enough to hear my footsteps and discover that silence truly is golden.

Author Description

Cynthia Baseman

Cynthia Baseman is the author of 'Love, Mom: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Hope.' She writes about motherhood, the environment and education.

There are 7 comments. Add yours

  1. 16th June 2012 | Jaime says: Reply
    I love this blog! Cynthia, your writing is top notch and you really do your research on top of sharing your own personal opinion & stories to round it out. And I love the photos!! You are a great resource, thank you for the time and energy you put into this!
  2. 31st May 2012 | Carpool Goddess says: Reply
    Sunday is my favorite day to walk in the hood. So peaceful! Thanks for the tip about the heavy fine for violating the noise ordinance. I guess I better curb my late night parties (and by late night, I mean 9 p.m.).
  3. 31st May 2012 | Ellen says: Reply
    Agree, silence is Golden!
  4. 31st May 2012 | Susan kolko says: Reply
    I love running in the off - noise hours- it's the only time I don't use my iPod.You can hear the buzz on the electric wires, rats scurrying up palm trees, the sound of the wind, and,if you're lucky, a rain drop .
  5. 31st May 2012 | Jim Bennett says: Reply
    Let the silence begin. ::))
  6. 31st May 2012 | Ellen Horwitz says: Reply
    loved the article!

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