Council Addresses Airplane, Construction Noise


This week, the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection held a hearing during which council members Daniel Garodnick (D-Manhattan) and Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) proposed bills that address noise complaints throughout the five boroughs.

The City Council discusses noise pollution in the five boroughs. Photo courtesy of Twitter

The City Council discusses noise pollution in the five boroughs. Photo courtesy of Twitter

Queens members on the committee include Councilmen Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).

“Noise continues to be the number one quality-of-life issue in New York City as evidenced by the number of 311 noise complaints,” said Constantinides, the committee’s chairman.

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Fiscal Year 2017 report, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received 58,892 noise complaints, resulting in 2017 having the second highest number of noise complaints in recent years.

Constantinides said that neighborhoods with lower economic statuses and a higher number of racial and ethnic groups have increased exposure to noise pollution.

From 2002 to 2016, LaGuardia Airport increased the number of its airplane departures from 50,000 to more than 100,000, which follows in the wake of a recent decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reroute several flight patterns from LaGuardia, resulting in significant noise pollution from morning to night for many residents in Queens.

Intro 1177 would require the FAA to reduce the threshold for what constitutes a significant noise impact from 65 day-to-night decimals to 55 day-to-night decimals. The legislation is supported by U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights).

Under Intro 1300, the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) would be required to provide public access to noise mitigation plans for construction sites, which would be made publicly available on its website.

Garodnick said that construction sites currently have noise mitigation plans as well as information regarding the timing of work posted at sites. However, that information is often not publicly available to the neighbors of construction sites.

While other city departments are modernizing their communication with the public, the DEP has not technologically evolved. Garodnick is proposing that all documents pertaining to any project that could result in noise complaints be publicly available online—and that other agencies, such as the FAA, share any information regarding noise complaints with the DEP.

Garodnick said that this would provide transparency and accountability and make it easier for the DEP to answer questions from the public.

Kallos’ Intro 1653A was created to provide efficient responses to noise complaints. Currently, the average time for the city to respond to noise complaints to 311 is four days. In most cases, by day four, the noise is no longer an issue, Kallos said. His legislation would set up a timeline between the time of the complaint and the hour in which a response is given.

Meng said that she has advocated for Intro 1177.

“I believe it is imperative that the federal government create clear standards governing permissible aircraft noise levels over densely populated communities and that the appropriate mitigation practices also be pursued on behalf of those who are impacted,” said Meng.

Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, or @reporter_ariel.

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