Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak. – Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

These wise words clearly set the type of argument Downtowners should heed when dealing with the excessive levels of noise from the train horns!

Many of us tend to overdo everything in our lives, except sleep. Those too few hours we set aside to recharge are bodies are precious.

However, lately we have been blasted out of sleep throughout the night, leaving us waking exhausted, irritable, and angry.

We do live in an urban environment and, therefore, expect a certain elevated level of ambient noise. However annoying the occasional Coaster blasts, garbage trucks, and fire engines are, they are just part of living Downtown. But to be subjected night after night to levels of noise more suitable for rock concerts is more than any urbanite should accept.

The established dB(A) (decibel levels where the human ear is most sensitive) for residential interiors is 40-50 during daytime hours, 30-50 evenings. Any sound above 75 will cause a person to wake up.

To avoid disturbances for residents from airplane noise, San Diego International Airport is working on restricting residential homes in areas where the sound is over 60 dB(A).

Yet, the Federal Railroad Administration has mandated train horn sounds to be a minimum of 96 dB(A) and no louder than 110 dB(A) measuring 100 feet in front of the locomotive and 15 feet above the rail.

Does it make sense that the train horn is louder than a rock concert of 100? And just what exactly does the dB(A) measure one foot in front and above the locomotive? Could it be over 120, a deafening level? Is it any wonder we are angry?

Nevertheless, is throwing eggs, pointing lasers, or raising the middle finger only escalating the noise? If every action has a reaction, doesn’t anger fuel more anger, thus begetting even more noise? In arguing by noise, who wins? Whose reason is weak?

I weigh…Isn’t making noise commanding noise?

Several Downtowners have steeled themselves to establish a productive approach to the ongoing argument about noise violation.

Larry & Sandy Bornstein (Renaissance) have grown increasingly frustrated over the inconsistency of the horn noise from engineers. They decided to document engineers producing excessive noise and report the offenders.

As a nurse, Wendy Rossi (Treo) already has an erratic sleep schedule. When her complaints seemed to be disregarded, she set up a camera to capture the video and audio of extreme engineers.

Having just moved from the East Coast, Sharon Williams (Pinnacle) has frequent out of town visitors. She is embarrassed when her guests are awakened by the noise, and keeps a pen and paper beside her bed to document the unwarranted noise.

In establishing our argument to silence the night, let’s make the case through strength of evidence. - July 2006

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