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.