You’re not imagining it. Summer 2020 is noisier than usual. We should have known it back in June, when people were setting off firecrackers at all times of the night. Thank goodness that seems to be over.
But the party’s not.
We are now privy to a cacophony of sounds seeping into our homes that — especially as many of us are trying to work from home — is driving us batty.
The trying hum of our industrious landscaping neighbor’s buzz saw or leaf blower. The incessant pounding of the jumping jack fitness buff who lives in the apartment above. The never-ending squeals of the little ones on our block playing outside all day long.
“We always get an increase in noise complaints in the summer,” says Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. “But this year, there has already been a 24% increase in neighbor complaints. And a lot of those calls are noise-related.
Sure, Philadelphia and its surrounding ‘burbs have ordinances that prohibit noise and excessive vibration. For example in Philadelphia, although it’s hard to enforce, it’s against the law to to make loud noise outside — like play music or operate a lawn mower — from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.
So what can we do when OPN — other people’s noise — is jacking up our morning meditation? Here are a few tips to lower the volume on this summer.
Whether the unwanted clamor is coming from, the home improvement guru who lives across the street or the Zumba studio below your apartment, the first step is to have a conversation with the noisemaker, Landau says. He or she might be unaware that their activities are disturbing your quality of life.
Start the chat when the tension is not escalated. “Running out trying to address a noise issue at midnight is going to have a completely different effect than chatting about it during the day when the emotion is not there,” Landau says.
When starting these uncomfortable conversations, keep these thoughts in mind:
But there will be times when you can’t take the noise. And talking it through is just not working. If the noise disagreement escalates to violence, call the police. If, however, you think mediation will help, contact the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations at 215-686-4670. But, Landau says, keep in mind that introducing a third party for mediation doesn’t always sit well with the offending party. So, make sure you’ve had that initial conversation first.
What does mediation look like? The commission will contact you and your neighbor about the complaint and if necessary convene a meeting between the two parties in an effort to find common ground.
There may be practical ways to handle noise that’s bothering you.