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From YouTube: Understanding Noise


Notice anything missing? That's right. Sound. It's all around us. And with over 200,000 Arlingtonians living together in just 26 square miles, it can get pretty loud sometimes. Hey! That's enough. Too much noise! That's better.

That's why Arlington, like most communities attempts to control noise through a Sound Ordinance. But few ordinances are as challenging to enforce as one that regulates noise, because our personal perceptions of noise vary widely, as does our tolerance to the source of noise. While some people find traffic noises irritating, others can't tolerate the sound babies crying or dogs barking. One person's music is another person's noise.

Spurred by a recent Virginia Supreme Court ruling which struck down subjective criteria, Arlington is undertaking the first update to its Noise Control ordinance since the 1970s. A lot of things have changed in Arlington over the last four decades and as Arlington has become a more commercial and urban community, it's gotten louder... and louder. On an average week night in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor the basic ambient noise can exceed 60 dB.

In addition, methods of measurement created in the 70s have become less useful over time, as have penalties and fines.

The challenge we face is to define new tools that create clear, reasonable, objective standards, AND allow for effective and equitable enforcement. Enforcement issues can become particularly difficult at night or on weekends when Arlington County Police must respond to noise complaints among their other duties. These are also the times when noise control issues can frustrate and aggravate us the most.

Effective noise control means coming together to protect our community's health, safety, and welfare while respecting each other's rights. After all, each one of us makes the world just a little bit louder.

You can find out more about Arlington's noise control ordinance, or file a complaint yourself, by going to