Residents flee from excessive noise of ‘Taste' | Letter

Aug 28, 2014

Editor, The Beacon:

A number of recent letters to The Beacon have cited the excessive noise problems with the “Taste of Edmonds” event [“Taste brings noise to neighborhood,” page 4, Aug. 14].

Strictly speaking, 99 percent of the “noise" is the over-amplified music coming from the band stage on the Sixth Avenue side of the Civic Center Playfield.

The excessive noise level is something that affects not only the individual rights of Edmonds residents, but has a negative impact on local Edmonds businesses. Let me explain.

My wife and I moved into our Edmonds condo near the Civic Center Playfield in February 2011.

A few weeks before the “Taste,” some of my neighbors started asking me, "Where are you going for the ‘Taste of Edmonds’ weekend?"

Unfortunately, we decided to stay. How bad could it be?

They were so right; it was the worst weekend in Edmonds ever!

Even with all of our windows closed, the sound from the bands on the stage was so loud it was hard to have a conversation or even watch TV indoors. And forget about getting a young granddaughter to sleep before 10 p.m.

In the following years, friends and family visiting us in Edmonds got to appreciate the "Edmonds experience."

We all enjoyed the overall ambiance of the "walkable" town, the local shops and restaurants, the beach/waterfront, and events like the Waterfront Festival, Art Walks, etc. as long as we were all far, far away on the “Taste” weekend.

As I got to know more people in Edmonds, it became apparent that there are many, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of residents that bailed-out on the “Taste” weekend.

In terms of a negative business impact, there are two issues, one direct and one indirect.

One direct impact is that many of us plan all-day mall trips during the “Taste” weekend. We save a lot of our summer shopping for the Alderwood Mall stores along with lunch and dinner plus a movie. Others simply visit nearby family or take a local trip.

The "indirect impact" is that many folks who might visit Edmonds for events other than the “Taste” tend to equate the well-known horrendous noise reputation of the “Taste” with all Edmonds events, and just stay away.

The solution to the noise problem seems rather straightforward. The City of Edmonds Municipal Code Chapter 5.30 Noise Abatement & Control is quite thorough in specifying allowable decibel levels of noise.

Also, the code refers to a "noise control coordinator" that would apparently enforce the rules.

The last piece of the solution is to have the event sponsor (i.e., the Chamber of Commerce) control the sound level output from the large amplifier speakers.

Each individual musician may have their own amplifier, but the majority of the sound level experienced by the public probably comes from the large outdoor speakers.

A typical speaker might have a sensitivity rating of 85 decibels/1 watt/1 meter. This means that this speaker rating will produce sound at 85 db, 1 meter away, when it has an input of 1 watt.

A sound engineer using these kinds of specs for a specific speaker can determine the proper input wattage to control the volume at reasonable levels at a reasonable distance from the stage.

In this case, "reasonable" would have to be approved by the City of Edmonds.

The last relevant item would be to have a secure lock on the speaker input wattage control that could not be changed over the three-day period.

OK, so where do we go from here? My guess is that the Mayor of Edmonds and the president of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce need to work together to create a citizen-friendly, pleasant environment for all future “Taste” events.

I have sent a copy of this letter to both. If you wish, please email your own comments to Mayor Dave Earling at dave.earling@edmondswa.gov and Edmonds Chamber of Commerce President Greg Urban at greg@edmondswa.com.

 

Thank you,

Reggie Grant

Edmonds

 

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