Thursday, April 25, 2013

Proposed fine against Barclays Center for noise violation (Sensation) dismissed on technicality; new fine proposed for bass coming from Swedish House Mafia show

Maybe the third time's the charm, since two previous efforts to impose noise violations against the Barclays Center were dismissed on technicalities.

After seeing proposed fines for noise violations during the Sensation dance concerts last October dismissed on technicalities, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has now proposed a $3200 fine against the Barclays Center operator (Brooklyn Events Center) for the 3/2/13 show of Swedish House Mafia.

As the notice at right indicates, inspectors found readings of 55 dB, which is several times above the baseline of 45 dB, with an ambient reading of 40dB.

A hearing is scheduled for 1:00 pm Tuesday April 30, at the Environmental Control Board (ECB), 66 John Street, 10th Floor, in Lower Manhattan.

As I wrote at the time, another neighbor told me that the bass was even "louder than Sensation," the October dance show that was apparently twice as loud as permitted.

This was filed under a different section of the noise code, Section 24-231(a)2,  than the violation proposed for the Sensation show.

As indicated at left, Section 24-231(a)2 imposes a fine on music in excess of 45 dB in any one-third octave band having a center frequency between 63 hertz and 500 hertz, which are low frequencies encompassing bass.

Proposed Sensation fine dismissed

On 4/15/13, I asked if arena operators would be fined for violating the city's noise code, as seemed obvious to many residents nearby the arena during the Sensation dance concerts last October?

After all, the DEP took a reading that seemed to indicate the noise was way over permissible limits--and filed a notice of violation, a replacement for an initial violation that was filed against the wrong party.

A hearing on the proposed violation was scheduled for 4/2/13, then rescheduled for 4/16/13. At that hearing, the attorney for the Barclays Center, Jeff Gewirtz, challenged the violation,.

He noted that a dBC violation under Section 24-231(a) requires an ambient noise level above 62, while in this case the notice said the ambient noise was 60dBC.


DEP legal counsel Russell Pecunies did not oppose the motion. The Administrative Law Judge, Scott Kegelman, asked why DEP used that subsection.

“As to why [the inspector] took C-weighted readings rather than A,” Pecunies said, “as you know, 99 percent of the time, they do use the A scale.” (According to this source, C-weightings are used to measure peak or impact noise levels, such as gunfire.)

Kegelman said, "I must confess, I had a question as to why they cited C and cited the readings they did." He added, "If Mr. Pecunies is willing, he can talk to the witnesses about possible further action."

I followed up with the DEP and was told: "The readings that led to the now dismissed NOV [notice of violation] are not subject to further sanction." I got no further explanation, but it's possible the DEP inspector did not take a separate reading and thus was not equipped to file a different notice of violation.

The DEP did tell me that the separate fine for the Swedish House Mafia show was pending, and would not be subject to a similar motion for dismissal.

Community complaints

As I wrote 3/5/13, while a New York Times review called the Swedish House Mafia show "benign bombast," I could hear/feel the rumble walking outside the arena for the third night of the show. And, a resident told me, it was not nearly as intrusive as it had been the two previous nights.

On 3/3/13, one resident wrote, "More bass from tonight's concert. Seems to be louder than last night." Another affirmed, "Even louder than yesterdays concert." Another asked, "Why can’t the city do something NOW to shut this down?"

Atlantic Yards Watch has compiled a map of the locations of 23 complaints lodged during the Jay-Z and Sensation shows last fall, well beyond the radios of the arena into Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, and Park Slope.

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