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Noisy Neighbors (and Nameless Communities)

Sometimes we’re asked to share with the community with the intention to facilitate change or at least engage in discussion. This time, we had a reader share with us about his concern over a popular spot in Jefferson Park.

Dear Church Hill People’s News:

Would you please write an article about noise disturbances from cars in our area? It is very disruptive and keeps us on edge. UPS and Amazon delivered Packages are stolen from our front porch and we wish local police would give some attention to Union Park as well as criminal activity with noise activity disturbing the peace.

When our family first moved to Richmond, we lived right beside a fella that loved his car stereo system so much that he would play heavy bass for the entire block after he came home from work. The walls would rattle, the cats would scatter and, if it was a good song, we’d bop to it. Despite the fun, at times it felt inconsiderate. We didn’t escalate it. We talked to him and had a conversation. It didn’t quite stop the issue, but at least when the music would play at later hours in the day all we’d do is wave and he’d stop.

Now, our issue never got violent or potentially unsafe. For that, we were blessed. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons (as you may feel from the letter below) but as the neighborhood grows, do you find that you know your neighbors? Do you feel comfortable giving feedback? It’s a strange question to ask, but considering all the changes happening in the East End, are we becoming the kind of nameless community of bigger cities (or were we always there?)

Below is a copy of the email sent to Lt. Roane:

Dear Lt Roane,

My family lives directly in front of Jefferson Park in Union Hill. The reason for my email is due to noise violations by car drivers playing their “music” at obnoxious levels. About a dozen cars have driven by our home this evening alone with these noise violations. It is ridiculous. We hear them daily and nightly and their noise violations shake the windows and walls of our home. We live directly on 21 St so we get all of the traffic from Mosby, Leigh and anyone wishing access to Jefferson Avenue. What can be done to address these noise ordinance violations? Calling 911 is futile since the car drivers are moving and police would never catch them by the time they would arrive. I am a full time medical student and studying is difficult when dozens of cars in a 12 hour period go by our home with these noise violations. It also interferes with sleep since our bedroom window faces the street where the offending drives parade their cars. Can you please address this problem?

Lt. Roane answered that the 1st precinct has had “a recent increase in violent crime which has been the primary focus”.

Through additional communication we learned this is daily, and at times, hourly occurrence. We empathize with our neighbor as there could be some ways to diffuse this situation. If you ever feel like you can’t talk to your neighbor, or someone you don’t know, you can call the police anonymously since there are Noise Ordinances (Richmond Code §38-31, §38-32) outside of daylight hours of 7AM-MIDNIGHT.

The subject of noise has come up a few times over the years:

Dogs Barking in the Night



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k 01/23/2019 at 9:16 AM

“7AM-MIDNIGHT”…. Well there is your answer. As a member of this persons neighborhood I have to take a pretty black and white approach to this. Having an officer present to stop “Loud music driving by” when we cant get an officer to walk a beat in the projects sounds ridiculous to me. There are much more important issues we need to solve as a community. I understand it can be annoying as I experience is as well. But to dedicate officers specifically to this task is IMO a waste of resources. Imagine living next to 64 or 95 would you complain about noise there? It’s a big factor when buying a home and one that you have to consider. The package theft issue is something totally separate and yes that does need to be addressed .

Jeff Neffiston 01/23/2019 at 10:40 AM

Lol theres tons of murders and shootings down the street. Good luck with your little noise complaint bud.

L 01/23/2019 at 1:04 PM

So, some of the information here appears to be incorrect or incomplete, unless I’m reading an old or outdated copy of the code:

1) Daytime is 7 Am to 11 PM
2) Night (“daytime extended hours”) in the code is 11 PM TO 7 AM
3) Outdoor noise level limit is 65 Db at night, 75 during the day
4) Indoor noise level is 65 daytime, 55 at night
5) Indoor and outdoor refer to where the noise is HEARD/MEASURED. Not where the noise originates. (In other words, be as loud as you want, as long as the sound doesn’t carry to someone else’s property)

As a landlord, noise issues make me crazy because the law, as enforced, requires a complainant at the site of the violation. This means that the police often have to/insist on measuring the noise in the COMPLAINANTS house or apartment, which immediately singled out the person who filed the complaint for retribution from their neighbors

As for whether enforcement is worth it: that’s an argument about policing styles and the effectiveness of broken windows theory policing. As I understand it, broken windows theory/policing is the notion that enforcement against minor crimes and violations creates an orderly environment where would be criminals are less likely to perpetrate major crimes – it’s contentious for a variety of reasons. Regardless, I think even if we assume that broken windows type policing is effective, enforcing the noise ordinance around Jefferson Park probably isn’t going to do much to improve conditions in Mosby and Gilpin Court. So…

Will K 01/23/2019 at 1:53 PM

Lol if you’re asking what the police can do to stop people loudly playing music while they drive by your house then I think you need to admit to yourself that it is time for you to move to suburbs.

Katherine Jester
Katherine Jester 01/23/2019 at 4:06 PM

I guess we should all move out now that Lord and M’Lady have spread their robes. Seriously- learn an active threat from a non-threat and try actually speaking to your neighbors. The police have a job to do and this is not it.

Emily Klinedinst
Emily Klinedinst 01/23/2019 at 5:15 PM

Seriously, people please stop calling police for petty shit, or consider moving to gated community suburbs where you can have an HOA meeting about it ?

Alan Huband 01/23/2019 at 4:20 PM

In Chesterfield car stereos are in violation of the noise ordinance if the stereo can be heard from outside the vehicle, 24/7. It has been very effective in reducing the noise emitted from the vehicles of rude and self centered drivers.

Leave it to Richmond to adopt an nonenforceable noise ordinance.

You can always get tag numbers and file your own complaint with a magistrate. No cop necessary.

Joshua 01/23/2019 at 5:18 PM

Socio-economics and cultural mores are drivers of this issue. As the gentrification of Church Hill continues to progress there will be an increase in these type of complaints as communities blend together.

The government cannot address this challenge for us. I recommend a white noise machine or even better, the SONO noise cancelling device or something similar.

Empty barrels will always make the most noise. All the rest of us can do is choose how we respond.

Jerum Piledriver 01/23/2019 at 6:13 PM

Lives near Mosby street and his complaint is noise lmao. Boy Church Hill has really changed over the years. Like a different country now.

Sarah Katherine
Sarah Katherine 01/23/2019 at 7:51 PM

The only reason to ever call 911 is a life-threatening emergency… not some folks driving by blasting loud music.

K 01/24/2019 at 9:02 AM

Would love a response from OP. Maybe someone can recommend a good west end realtor ?

MP 01/24/2019 at 2:53 PM

K and company, the answer isn’t to just move to the west end or the suburbs. The answer is that the loud bass cars need to be more considerate of their neighbors. It’s an important quality of life issue for many, many people. Some people aren’t as affected as much, but please be respectful to the people who are very bothered by this. It literally makes my ears hurt, and rattles me for a good 15 minutes afterwards when a crazy booming bass car goes by. That’s why the laws were passed. The law needs to be enforced, just like speeding. We live in a society where not all behavior is tolerated, we pass laws through our elected representatives on council, and we enforce them. It’s pretty normal and not a big deal.

Also, there have been other cities that have decided to take noise ordinance enforcement seriously, and the fines have ended up paying for the extra officer (Elkhart Indiana is the main example). It’s pretty easy to do.

SueWho 01/24/2019 at 5:22 PM

The upside to this issue is that the drivers of these vibrating, window shaking bass, boom boxes will eventually become hard of hearing. The downside to becoming hard of hearing is that they’ll need to crank up the volume to hear what they’re playing! .

L 01/24/2019 at 5:23 PM

So, I’ve been watching the comments here and there’s an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, people do sometimes call the police without good reason, and there is a perceived or real problem with racial and other biases in policing. On the other hand, the reason for calling the police should, in theory, be to maintain peace and have an authoritative third party address an issue so that it doesn’t escalate.

The notion that you should only call the police in a life threatening emergency is unhelpful. Seeing someone on the street trying doorhandles or peering in windows on cars or houses seems like a perfectly good reason to call the police, for example.

Anyway, how do we resolve the tension between 1) needing the police to keep the peace, avoid violent confrontation, and resolve these sorts of situations and 2) the fact that there are concerns about misuse or abuse of authority and disparate treatment?

Eric S. Huffstutler 01/25/2019 at 4:35 AM

@3 L, the old noise ordinance was written in 2004 and updated by City Council in 2011 that extended the hours to Midnight.

Look on page 7 of this helpful city guide as well

K 01/25/2019 at 9:36 AM

I drove down this street blasting mumford and sons this morning. Is that better? Maybe some kings of leon tomorrow? If you’re into classical I can maybe work in some Allman Brothers

Robert J. pate 01/25/2019 at 12:06 PM

Pull them over and give them a ticket !! ANYTIME anywhere in the city if your car is that loud you get a ticket. A couple weeks of stringent enforcement and word would get around and people would stop disturbing the peace…as much.

Hu Flung Dung 01/25/2019 at 2:26 PM


“Also, there have been other cities that have decided to take noise ordinance enforcement seriously, and the fines have ended up paying for the extra officer (Elkhart Indiana is the main example). It’s pretty easy to do.”

According to Wikipedia, Elkhart, Indiana has a Republican mayor and a city council with 7 Repubs and 2 Dems. MP, as time goes by, you’ll learn that “loud bass cars” is the least of your problems. Get out of Dodge while you can.

Anne 01/26/2019 at 8:15 PM

Not to stir the pot but stirring the pot.

Putting music in quotation marks is a dog whistle.


Mary Anne 01/28/2019 at 7:48 PM

Time to move to the burbs, friend! Police have bigger issues to deal with.

Kwanze 01/28/2019 at 10:24 PM

wow. The email sent to Lt Roane is literally over a year old since many of us within the Jefferson Park wrote similar ones. This issue is a problem for us on 21 st St and Princess Anne. We even discussed this noise issue at a crime watch meeting over a year ago. And yet, CHPN publishes it now? Fake news and virtue signaling at its fascist finest. Talk about desperate for hit pieces on their very own neighbors. Way to go CHeaPNews. BuzzFeed would blush. No wonder Church Hill residents scoff at your rag.

OP, buy a gun or three. We did. That should get your “friendly” “loving” “community” neighbors really riled up….hypocrites.

CHPN ADMIN 01/30/2019 at 10:34 AM

@21 — This comment is so gross and I’m only publishing it to show what we’re not tolerating here in the future. You don’t get to dictate when we post things and we made sure there were no personally identifying things in this email.

Plus the issue of noise disturbance is one that is timeless and comes up throughout the year. Closing comments for now as this is not turning into a side show to insult one another.

25the Street Michael N. 01/29/2019 at 10:11 AM

Well, the “bass” movement has been going on since I was in high school…hello late 1980’s…so I dont think its going away anytime soon.
People are just inconsiderate. Period.
You never hear anyone pumping Sinatra, David Bowie or The Cure. That would be a nice change.


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