NYC Noise Regulations
The NYC Noise Code sets out regulations for decibel levels and times of day for construction noise, animal noise, food vending vehicles, air circulation devices, motor vehicles, refuse collection vehicles, and bars and restaurants.
Commercial establishments must limit the level of unreasonable or disturbing noise that can be heard in streets or nearby residences. Sounds levels may not exceed:
• 42 decibels as measured from inside nearby residences, and
• 7 decibels over the ambient sound level, as measured on a street or public right-of-way 15 feet or more from the source, between 10 PM and 7 AM.
• Bass sounds measurements are weighted in the “C” scale and may not exceed 6 dB(C) above the ambient sound if the ambient sound is greater than 62 dB(C).
Fines for DEP noise code violations can cost $3,500 and up
If residents have a chronic complaint about noise from bars or restaurants, they can request through 311 that DEP schedule an inspector to take decibel meter readings at their apartment. Fines from these DEP violations can be as much as $3,500. The second offense is $6,400, and the third offense is $9,600. This is much higher than the fines that may be issued by NYPD for unreasonable noise.
Businesses are encouraged to reduce noise disturbances by changing offending operational practices, retrofitting their premises with sound insulation on walls, floors and ceilings, or modifying sound equipment. As an incentive for businesses with noise violations to achieve compliance, DEP may recommend to the Environmental Control Board that no penalty be imposed for a first offense if the business provides evidence that it has corrected the condition. If the offending condition is not remedied, multiple violations may result in penalties or sealing of the sound equipment.
DEP recommendations to minimize noise from your business
NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection has compiled a list of best operating practices help your venue to minimize noise and comply with the NYC Noise Code. Specific noise control measures will vary for each building. Owners are recommended to discuss their particular noise condition with a qualified acoustical consultant as early as possible in the design or renovation of a prospective location, or to get a retrofit of an existing venue. DEP has compiled a list of trade organizations for acoustical consultants, as well as examples of sound insulation products for walls ceilings and floors, acoustical doors and windows, and equipment that controls the range and peak output levels of audio systems. Download the PDF here.