Event noise

The Eastlake Community Council advocates for the public’s right to peace and quiet. Noise disturbs sleep and is can harm public health. Noise denies people the full use of their home or business.

The major sources of noise in Eastlake are the I-5 freeway, seaplanes, construction, and events at Gas Works Park. Noise from events at Gas Works Park are discussed here. Noise from the freeway is discussed on the Freeway Noise pagein the Transportation section of this web site. Seaplane noise and other impacts are discussed in the Seaplanes page of the Parks and Lake Union section of this web site. Construction noise is discussed on the Construction Impacts page.

Events Eastlake’s grand view of Gasworks Park places Eastlake in earshot of illegal noise at night and early morning hours (noise travels well on water surfaces). Noise travels especially well over water, so noise in Gas Works Park can be loud enough for Eastlakers to hear with windows closed, the television on, and earplugs in. Much of the noise is in the summer, just when Eastlakers deserve to be able to open their windows and doors to get some fresh air.

For many years, Eastlake Community Council volunteers have worked with City officials to greatly reduce early morning weekend loudspeaker noise from sports runs that begin or end at Gas Works Park. For some of the ECC and City correspondence, click here. A Oct. 16, 2013 City response is worth quoting at length:

“In order to mitigate these issues, the following proposals will be made to the Special Event Committee for approval and implementation by January 1, 2014 for all neighborhoods: (1) Require event organizers to prove need for off-hours amplified sound; (2) Require event organizers to provide specific information about what sound will be amplified, what equipment will be used, and schematics of the direction of the sound; (3) When Noise Variance permission is granted, require event organizers to include information on off-hours amplified sound in distributed notifications; (4) When Noise Variance permission is granted, require event organizers to hire DPD monitor staffing, at the organizer’s cost, to be on site from 60 minutes prior to permitted Noise Variance hours through the end of permitted Noise Variance hours; and (5) Require event organizers to assign on-site personnel with authority to control sound issues from 60 minutes prior to permitted hours and during all hours of the event, with public contact information.”

“While events in all Seattle neighborhoods will benefit from this additional critical review, Gas Works Park is unique in that it is located between a lake surrounded by tens of thousands of residents to the south, and at the base of a hill with tens of thousands more residents, combining to create magnification of any amplified sound in the park. Because of this, the following will be implemented immediately at Gas Works Park: (1) Suspend issuance of Noise Variance permits at Gas Works Park immediately through April 1, 2014; and (2) Suspend 2014 Noise Variance permissions for organizers who violated 2013 permissions.”

“The Special Event Office will take steps to more adequately inform ECC of upcoming events in the area, both with year-end event expectations and with notification for impactful individual events. Our office is also working with the Department of Neighborhoods to create more thorough event organizer notification requirements that will include direct outreach to both impacted neighbors and neighborhood/business organizations who represent them. This, along with other information like thorough Noise Variance parameters and instructions, will be available online.”

Drumming. Seattle Municipal Code section 25.08.500 prohibits “unreasonable noise which disturbs another” and the refusal or intentionally failure “to cease the unreasonable noise when ordered to do so by a police officer.” Included in this prohibition is “Loud or raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds created by use of a musical instrument, or other device capable of producing sound when struck by an object, a whistle, or a sound amplifier or other device capable of producing, amplifying, or reproducing sound.”

Drumming isn’t allowed in City parks without a permit, and no permits are being issued for such drumming. Illegal drumming in Gas Works Park has been increasing, and as the lake surface transmits noise easily, Eastlake suffers some of the worst effects. Unfortunately, the Seattle Police and Parks departments will not regard enforcement against illegal drumming as a priority unless many people ask for action.

In daytime the police can be fairly prompt in stopping the drummers. But in the evening shift (when drumming noise may be most disturbing to sleep), the officers tend not to respond to noise complaints unless they get a lot of them at once. Calling relatively quickly after the drumming starts will give an officer time to get out to the park to stop the drumming before it has gone on for hours and hours. So the minute you near the noise, please phone either 911 or the police non-emergency number at 206-625-5011 (don’t just leave a message–press 2, then 8 to reach a live operator). Be sure to mention the date and time of the noise. It’s better to give your name and contact information, but you can be anonymous.

Although officers are sent in response to calls to the non-emergency number, the Police Department does not total these calls or use them to proactively shape its enforcement priorities as it does for calls to 911. The accumulation of 911 calls enables SPD to act proactively on a problem, so please do not hesitate to call 911 with noise complaints. You will not be diverting 911 resources from life-threatening emergencies; the operators know where to route noise complaints to get results.

Also, please send an e-mail to loren.street@seattle.gov (Officer Street of the Community Policing Team in North Precinct, in which Gas Works Park is located ) letting him know the date and time that you called about the noise, and whether or not the drumming stopped.

And please also share your message (and your concerns and experiences) with the Eastlake Community Council. ECC welcomes and needs your input about noise so it can monitor and address the problem and put you in touch with others who have similar concerns. The address is info@eastlakeseattle.org, or c/o ECC, 117 E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle 98102-3278. ECCit E. Louisa St. #1, Seattle 98102-3278.