Echoing booms on Eastside ; tuesday night

There have been several loud explosion like booms, did anyone else hear them? -the eastside

Noise Exposes Council Candidates

Nothing will motivate you to examine the inner workings of City Council like being forced out of your home and paying tens of thousands of dollars in the process. Machlis and Kingsbury weren't directly responsible, but they were the last line of public defense against a neighbor using a heat pump that undisputedly exceeded noise code and made our lives miserable.

Conversations with Kingsbury assured me that the problem would be taken care of. "How can we let this problem persist in our neighborhoods while trying to address the same problem downtown". He didn’t follow through.

I met the "environmentally conscious" Machlis at City Council’s Environmental meeting examining heat pump noise. After discussion, the three members voted unanimously to keep the current noise restrictions and end the absurd interpretation being used by the Planning Department, allowing a heat pump to be placed within 5 feet of a neighbors property.

Sometime after the meeting Machlis changed her mind. It could have been because Machlis herself had a heat pump installed. Though not located in the setback, her heat pump would likely exceed noise code for 2 reasons: its proximity to the neighbors property, and that it is between her house and her neighbors, such that extra noise reflects off of her house toward the neighbor.

Maybe it doesn't bother this neighbor - but what would happen if a new one moves in someday? Machlis wanted to add a 'buyer beware' clause so that any new neighbor couldn't complain about the noise - even if it were in exceedance of noise code.

Urgent: What the Navy plans for the Pacific Northwest

Dear residents of the Pacific Northwest,

I recently learned about an alarming proposal involving heightened military exercises in our eco-region and wanted to alert as many people as possible to this development. Please check the links below so that you can comment by the deadline of March 11, 2009.

The U.S. Navy wants to vastly increase its military training activities in the so-called Pacific Northwest Training Range Complex. This range stretches from northern California to northern Washington State and into the Hood Canal and Puget Sound. It encompasses more than 122,000 square nautical miles of water and 46,000 square nautical miles of airspace. From the coastline, it extends westward nearly 300 miles into the Pacific Ocean (and includes areas touching on the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary).

Activities proposed for this tremendous area include the use of sonar, bombs, new weapons systems, "sonobuoys," an undersea minefield, unmanned aerial vehicles, multi-million dollar aircraft (one is called the EA-18G Growler, a Boeing electronic attack aircraft that costs in the vicinity of $60 million for one single plane), guided missile submarines, explosive ordnance disposal, and much more.

The environment the Navy wants to utilize for these exercises is habitat to nine ESA-listed marine mammal species--including orcas, whales, and sea otters; three threatened salmon species; more than 70 bird species; and untold numbers of fish and other creatures. And of course, we humans in the vicinity will also be exposed to the effects of all this madness.

Noise Ordinance Passes, Nobody Notices, Downtown Still Alive

Eight weeks ago, on September 23, the ordinance was passed.

The new requirements ensure venue owners keep doors closed to prevent sound from reaching inside neighboring residences at 65db between 11PM-7AM on Friday & Saturday; 60db on weekday evenings.

And let me tell ya, I've been waiting on that whole mass exodus of bar and venue owners and the death of our music scene we were promised... and the whole you know, collapse of downtown that was supposed to happen. It's eight weeks into this thing and downtown is still going strong! What gives!

Ah, the sound of silence.

Driving Piles

Pile DriverMaybe you haven't heard it. If you live or work in Olympia and you haven't heard it, then you need to get your hearing checked. Because it's loud. I went by today. I saw it in action. More so, I heard it - felt it actually, as it vibrated the ground. I got right up close and personal. It was painfully loud. I wonder how it felt to the workers who were standing there, watching the machine hammer away... I wonder how long their shifts are. They did not look happy. In fact they seemed quite close to the point source, and not too enthused about the whole situation.

The deep piles are necessary for tall structures in this area because the land is composed of fill, which is mostly mud dredged up from the bay. The land is prone to liquefaction (where it turns into a soupy mess and becomes unable to support heavy structures) in an earthquake situation.

Is this the face of progress? Or is this an attempt to create an illusion of security and permanence? These are heavy questions. But it's time to be asking them, considering the amount of piles that we might, as residents of Olympia, be looking forward to - given the impetus for development, "revitalization" and investment in the vision of a "vibrant" downtown core.

Latest on the Noise Ordinance

I just got back from sitting in on today's general govenment committee meeting.

There was a 2-1 vote by the committee members to pass the noise ordinance amendment on to the whole city council with the following changes:

- the inclusion of a sunset (review?) clause to take place within a year of the ordinance's implementation, but no later than the last council meeting of 2009.

- Extension of the 65 Db levels to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

There was a long debate about whether specific language should be included addressing the procedures to be followed in an "appeal" - and whether this would require different Db measurements or interior vs. exterior measurements - but in the end, in part because some requested materials hadn't been made available to the council members, it was decided that these were questions which would be addressed if the situation arose.

There was also a discussion of whether specific language needed to be included to make sure that the ordinance was enforced fairly - for example, seeking voluntary compliance before any consequences would follow from a violation. While it was generally agreed that, in the absence of such language, a "reasonable" application of the code was implicit, concern was expressed about whether this would remain the case with a different council or code enforcement officer.

Finally, the council member who objected to passing this on did so because there was no specific language about first seeking mediation through some sort of neighborhood group.

I hope I have represented to views expressed fairly and will galdly accept corrections from anyone else involved.

Thanks for your time.


Name that sound?

Since we're getting all community oriented with our senses (see the earlier "What's That Smell" post), does anyone know what that sound is? I mean, that sound that is resonating from somewhere downtown and is loud enough to be heard all over the lower Westside, if not beyond.

It sounds like one of those flexible tubes you can swing over your head, that make 3 tones or so, changing with the speed it's swung at. Don't know the name of those instruments, but I hope you know what I mean.

I've heard this sound on and off for a few weeks, in various locations on the Westside and on the west side of downtown. Anyone know what it is?

Austin's noise ordinance battle

I highly recommend this article to folks interested in the current noise ordinance issue:

Nobody could have imagined that seven days of intense public debate over the city's proposed new noise ordinance would end in five minutes of silence.

And yet it was pin-drop quiet at last Wednesday's public forum on said noise ordinance, when Assistant Police Chief James Fealy used his closing comments to announce that the city wouldn't be moving forward with what he admitted was a "half-baked" proposal.

"We need to slow it down and back it up," Fealy told a standing-room-only crowd of club owners and local music industry players, who had just spent an hour outlining for APD representatives how the ordinance would destroy their livelihoods. Had Fealy begun the meeting with that announcement, those same concert promoters could have shifted their stance from fear and unbridled anger to hope and talk of compromise 55 minutes earlier.

Austin Chronicle - Keeping the Peace

Neighbor Noise - save us all

Ever had a "night from hell" because the hotel room you stayed in had an ice machine just a few feet down the hall? If you have, then welcome to my world. No, I don't live in a cheep hotel. I'm speaking of the conditions at my home in the Carlyon-North neighborhood. The noise making culprit is a heat pump installed in a code-violating sideyard setback location, conveniently one foot from the property line between my house and my code-violating neighbor.

18 months is a hell of a long time to have a heat pump spewing noise into your home and property, but that's how long it's been. We can't have a family discussion around the dinner table without having to talk over the monotonous machine rumble. Outdoor barbecues are no longer palatable. Reading C. McCarthy (or OMC) in the living room takes a hell of a lot more focus and breathing control than it used to. Then there's the bedroom.

My wife is ready to move. I'm ready for months of counseling. But hey, from City of Olympia's standpoint, that's probably a good thing, stimulating the economy and such. Sorry, couldn't resist one cheap shot.

Is there anybody else out there who put in a noise complaint to the City, then the City respond that noise level was within compliance? If so, they were probably pulling your leg the same way they were pulling mine. How about set backs - anyone challenged something in the set back and had the City respond nonsensically? I'd like to hear from anyone with these types of experience.

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