Promptly at 7:30 a.m., my room begins to shake. No, my roommates aren’t playing another shitty Dillon Francis track, but what is going on could still be considered aural rape. What I and undoubtedly hundreds of my neighbors hear are the massive construction efforts (really two separate projects) going on no more than 100 feet from my house. The shaking can be felt for hundreds of feet. The noise can be heard for blocks. In fact, I am writing this in I.V. Theater and I can hear it well. This noise can really only be described as offensive. It is so loud and earth shattering that I can barely even think, let alone pretend to be paying attention in class. It is disturbing, annoying and even harassing.
And yet, some houses this weekend will inevitably be getting noise violations for noise on a much lesser scale. I’ve racked up a few during my years in I.V., and each time it’s the same story. People are partying and screaming in the streets, and yet I am violating a city ordinance by amplifying music past what is frankly an arbitrary time. The key difference between these instances of extreme noise is simple. Virtually nobody is complaining about loud music on Thursday through Saturday nights. Everybody I know is complaining about the construction noise. Worse, you can’t approach bulldozers and ask them to “turn it down.”
I wonder, if we polled the Isla Vista community, what times would we deem acceptable for noise? Isn’t this how these ordinances are made, by aggregating the values of the community to form standards that we all (mostly) agree upon? These are not philosophical arguments about right and wrong, but ordinances reflecting community standards. It is safe to say our community standards differ from those of communities on the other side of the freeway.
If these types of ordinances are based on community standards, then there is clearly a disconnection between our community’s standards for acceptable noise levels at a given time of day and the ordinances we have in place. The current nighttime ordinance is itself a nuisance and does not protect Isla Vista from the real, violating noise. It seems that the only people who feel they are getting violated by the noise are the I.V. Foot Patrol issuing the tickets. In one instance, the officer told me, “Your neighbors wanted you arrested!” But he refused to tell me who, and none of my neighbors have ever approached me about playing music too loud. While ordinance 40-2 (nighttime music) is a countywide ordinance, it disproportionally targets residences in Isla Vista in a similar fashion to the Social Host Ordinance that we all know and love.
Sadly, I don’t see any of this changing. How do we fight this? Who has time? We’ve been left to fight these violations on a case-by-case basis and we almost always lose. My only plea is to the officers on the street: please give us a chance to turn it down! We are not bad people, we just play bad music.
Evan Rosenberg is a fourth-year environmental studies major.