New Bill Tones Down Construction Noise

The New York City Council passed a new law Tuesday requiring construction companies to keep noise levels down in residential areas. The city’s efforts to combat noise pollution are part of a two-prong measure that is designed to limit noise pollution within city limits.

The new bill mandates that agents of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) must inspect construction sites that have been subject to a noise complaint within two hours of the first complaint. If they can not respond in a timely manner, the legislation requires the agents to come back another day within an hour of the time when the complaint was originally made. The DEP is now also required to compile an annual report detailing their response to each complaint and make it available online.

The bill has lowered acceptable noise levels from construction from 85 decibels to 80 decibels. In 2020, the limit will be lowered even more to 75 decibels. These new noise restrictions will only apply to sites that are located within 200 feet of a residence. Construction that takes place during the week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. will not be affected. However, the decibel restriction will be enforced all day on Saturdays and Sundays. Contractors who violate the new ordinance may be forced to halt their work.

New York City has long struggled with noise pollution. In 2007, the city’s noise code was revamped to include construction noise. As a result of the law, every construction crew is now required to have a noise mitigation plan on display. More than 400,000 noise complaints were made by New York residents in 2016, a sharp increase from the 179,394 complaints made the year before. Around 58,000 of the 2016 complaints were made to the DEP. Typically, the majority of complaints come from residents of Manhattan, the borough that Councilman Ben Kallos represents. Kallos, a resident of the Upper East Side, originally sponsored the bill when it was introduced in June 2017.

After being approved by the City Council on Tuesday, the bill was passed on to Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s office. He is expected to sign the bill into law sometime this month. The new regulations will go into effect 180 days after the mayor signs them.