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"Good Neighbors Keep Their Noise To Themselves"

Recent Success Stories

"Success Stories" is a new feature to highlight important victories in the struggle for peace and quiet.

Activists hold a pajama party in Minneapolis airport to protest nighttime noise -January 1999

California bill to ban local leafblower bans dies in the Senate -September 1998

Urban Amphitheater Proposal Withdrawn - June 1998

A Statewide Bill to Ban Leafblower Bans Withdrawn by Author - May 1998

Parking Lot Quieted - February 1998

Ballot Box Victory for Peace and Quiet - November 1997

Activists hold a pajama party in Minneapolis airport to protest nighttime noise --Minneapolis, MN

January 1999--Residents Against Aiport Racket (ROAR) united at a nighttime pajama party at the main terminal of the Minneapolis / St. Paul Metropolitan Airport. The pajama demonstration was held to protest nighttime noise.

ROAR members agree that the event was a HUGE success. Members appeared on most of the local television newscasts, the CBS and NPR stations, and both daily newspapers with a spot story and a column the day after the protest.

While a snowstorm raged outside, about 250 people, including many children, appeared in pajamas to support ROAR's message. Eight of the thirteen Minneapolis City Council members were there (in pajamas of course) as well. Members created a rumba line stretching the length of the ticketing area, chanting "Wake up we can't sleep, hey!" ROAR members ended with a countdown to 10 pm:"5,4,3,2,1,.....shhhhhhh........" to illustrate their message: STOP FLYING AFTER 10 PM!

ROAR organizers received many calls directly after the protest from new members who saw the coverage. ROAR is being viewed as an emerging political force. If anyone else want to adopt ROAR's strategy, ROAR organizers would be very happy to consult with you.....in fact, it would be wonderful if activists could do this at several airports as part of a drive for a national nighttime flight curfew. For details and information contact R.T. Rybak at: rtrybak@mr.net


California bill to ban local leafblower bans dies in the Senate -- Sacramento, CA

September 1998--Noise activists were pleased when in late May of 1998 State Senator Polanco, the author of a bill that would preempt local regulation of leafblowers in nearly twenty California cities, withdrew the bill from the legislative session. Yet at that time Senator Polanco preserved the option of reintroducing his bill, "tagging" the substance of his bill onto another bill, or "gutting and amending" a bill in order to replace its contents with his leafblower bill.

Sure enough, this summer the bill rose again in several different forms. Noise activists fought against the bill, emphasizing the right of municipal governments to address noise issues in their towns. Unfortunately, the Assembly approved the bill 41 to 26, the minimum number of votes needed to pass in the 80-seat house. But hope remained-- the bill then went to the state Senate, where President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) had vowed to kill it. Finally, in the last days of August, two versions of the bill died in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, where they had been referred but not acted upon.


Urban Amphitheater Proposal Withdrawn - Jacksonville, Florida

June 1998 - The two year debate over whether to build a new amphitheater at Jacksonville, Florida’s Metropolitan Park ended yesterday when Mayor John Delaney withdrew his support of the proposal. Mayor Delaney had proposed that the City of Jacksonville demolish an existing concert pavilion at the park, located along the St. Johns River, and build a $20 million outdoor amphitheater, with a 17,000 person capacity, covering the entire 10.8 acres of the park. This would have required converting a Federally-funded public recreational park to private, for-profit use. A noise study projected the noise pollution from the proposed facility would blast nearby residents with 95-104 decibels. That level is equivalent to standing next to a lawnmower.

Local residents concerned about the noise and economic impacts of an urban amphitheater quickly formed Citizens for Amphitheater Awareness (CAA) to fight the proposal. CAA used a number of tactics in their opposition of the proposed amphitheater. They consulted the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC) for technical information on noise and its effects and for advice on fighting the amphitheater. They created a website and published newsletters which included position statements, research on urban amphitheaters in other cities, and updates on the amphitheater debate. They urged citizens to voice their opinions by providing the phone numbers and addresses of newspaper editors, Jacksonville city council members, and the mayor. They raised funds by selling “No Amphitheater in Metro Park” bumper stickers and soliciting donations.

Through their tireless activism, Citizens for Amphitheater Awareness kept the amphitheater issue at the forefront of Jacksonville news and politics. Mayor Delaney recently withdrew his support for the proposal, because he did not think that the federal government would give permission for the city to proceed. Delaney said that CAA’s persistence and local opposition made the National Park Service reluctant to grant approval for the amphitheater. The mayor said of the group, ''I have to admire their dedication. I have to commend them for their vigilance.''

CAA does not plan to stop with this victory, however. Jan Miller, president of Citizens for Amphitheater Awareness, wants to drop the word ''amphitheater'' from the group's name and carry on as Citizens for Awareness. ''We've learned a lot of lessons,'' she said. ''I think we'll just be a political watchdog and keep our eye on all the projects they're working on, and make sure they're following all the rules."


A Statewide Bill to Ban Leafblower Bans Withdrawn by Author - California

May 1998 - SB1651, introduced into the California State Senate by Senator Richard Polanco, would have prohibited California cities or counties from banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers, reversing overnight the victories that activists in nearly 20 California cities spent years of their lives achieving. Under the bill, in order for a complete ban in a local ordinance, it would have to receive voter approval, rather than be instituted by the local governing body. In addition, existing ordinances that had not been passed by a plebiscite, would have to be overturned and commercial users of power leaf blowers would have until the year 2000 to replace their noisy equipment with 'less noisy' equipment, certified to generate less than 65 db of noise.

On Tuesday, May 26, 1998 Senator Polanco, the author of SB1651, withdrew the bill from the legislative session. Senator Polanco still has the option of reintroducing his bill in the next legislative session, and he could also try to "tag" the substance of his bill onto another bill during the current session. The lobbyist for the City of Los Angeles will be watching to make sure nothing about leaf blowers gets amended onto another bill and slips through the system.

Click here to read the proposed bill in the NPC Law Library.


Parking Lot Quieted - Fort Dodge, Iowa

February 1998 - When a large grocery store in her hometown started "entertaining" shoppers by blaring loud music into the parking lot, Jacqueline Tierney immediately began working to put an end to the noise. "I have problems believing they can prove people spend more money just because the parking lot is noisy," she said. However, Jacqueline's efforts to quiet the parking lot seemed to go nowhere. Her complaints to the grocery store fell upon deaf ears. When she took her case to the city council she discovered that the city noise ordinance was not strict enough stop this type of unnecessary noise.

Jacqueline then came up with the idea to show the grocery store what the parking lot music was costing them in the way of lost business. So, Jacqueline Tierney added up her recent grocery receipts, projected them out for one year, then multiplied this number by ten (often thought to be the actual number of people equally upset about an issue when one person complains). She estimated that $70,000 worth of business per year was being taken to other, quieter stores. After Jacqueline presented this information to the grocery store, the director of the store personally called her and told her they were shutting off the music. Now they will only play music on special occasions, a situation that Jacqueline Tierney says she can live with.

However, Ms. Tierney is not stopping here. She knows that a long term solution to this type of noise pollution is necessary. She has begun working to strengthen her city's noise ordinance. In fact, she has been using the NPC City Noise Ordinances page for ideas! "Guidelines For An Urban Noise Ordinance," by Federico Miyara is another resource available for those working to create or amend local noise ordinances. Also, check out "Please Turn It Down," an essay in NPC Noise Forum by Stephen Frazier concerning loud music in stores.


 Ballot box victory for peace and quiet - Santa Barbara, California

November 1997 - An ordinance banning gasoline powered leafbloweres in the city of Santa Barbara, California passed 55 to 45 percent on Tuesday, November 4, 1997. Electric powered blowers will still be permitted when the ban takes effect in 90 days. The ordinance was placed on the ballot by a local group called BLAST (Ban Leaf Blowers And Save Our Town) using the initiative process, after they were unsuccessful in getting the city council to pass such a ban.


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