A Quieter O'ahu's recommendation is that HB225 be modified in its language to implement the "Plainly Audible Standard" as the basis for determining excessive noise instead of Decibel or other measurements. A link to a very well-written and researched paper on the merits and application of the Plainly Audible Standard can be found at this link: Plainly Audible Standard.
As mentioned in the Bill and exchanges with Rep Hashem's office, this is a re-write of current HRS Section 291-24 Motorcycles And Mopeds, Noisy Mufflers; Penalty. To my knowledge, HPD has never issued a ticket under this statute. If they have, I'm certain it would be a scant few. Don't be surprised by that - they issue virtually no tickets under ANY of the noise statues or ordinances. I'm sure that Rep Hashem's office could inquire of HPD to provide an accounting from their database(s) of tickets issued over the past 5 years for the various sound ordinances/statutes we cite on our website (http://www.quieteroahu.com/hawaii-noise-laws.html). If asked, and if they respond, I think Rep Hashem would be stunned at the remarkably low, low, low numbers. Particularly when it is so very obvious to anyone who will listen that we have a serious vehicle noise problem on O'ahu. But to the current point, regrettably with the wording of HB225 it is dead on arrival. Either because it will not pass, or if it does pass it won't be enforced. We have had this discussion with HPD on numerous occasions, ostensibly District 7 representatives to the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board. First, the bill stipulates decibels, but not the decibel "Filter" to be used by a sound testing device. As we explain on our website, there are 3 primary dB filters, A, B, and C, depending upon which part of the sound spectrum you are measuring - high pitched sounds, medium or normal sounds, and low frequency or bass sounds. The decibel "A" filter is widely used for medium or normal frequencies or sounds within the principal range of the human ear. This is the most frequently used filter when measuring or talking about noise because it covers so much of the sound range audible to human ear. Measurements made with this scale are expressed as dB(A). The decibel "C" filter is suitable for measurements at very high sound pressure levels. The decibel "B" filter is between "C" and "A." Measurements made with these scales are expressed as dB(B) or dB(C). Except for very specific measurements for sound engineering applications, dB(B) and dB(C) measurements are not generally used for day-to-day descriptions of everyday noises. So, to start, HB225 should stipulate sounds exceeding 60dB(A) or it would be correctly dismissed in court as ambiguous. BUT - and here's the catch, HPD's next response will be that they neither have sound measuring equipment nor personnel trained in their use. Now understand, these devices aren't expensive, it's just that HPD is not inclined to prosecute noise violations. In private conversations with MANY patrol officers we're told that they have been told not to. That's non-attributable and could not be proven, but anecdotally, why then aren't there more summons being issued.
The one timeframe where we were able to find actual numbers was for period 2004 - 2008. You can find the actual numbers of summons that were issued for each of several statutes/ordinance over that timeframe on our site at http://www.quieteroahu.com/hpds-poor-record-of-enforcement.html . By simple extrapolation of those numbers that were provided to "Kokua Line" of the Star-Advertiser by Honolulu Law Enforcement we find that for 2000 sworn officers of HPD each officer could be expected to issue only 8 noise summons over a 20-year career. So when I say noise ordinances/statutes are not enforced, it is not a baseless claim.
Essentially, HPD's claim of enforceability of noise statutes/ordinances IS somewhat defensible. While sound measurement and Decibel readings are the gold standard, they are very, very, complicated and almost impossible to enforce. For example - how are from the source do you place the measurement device. At what RPM must an engine be revving to measure the sound. What is the ANSI standard that is being applied to the measurement. Too hard. And unnecessarily so. Across the country and for several years now municipalities have been combatting noise by implementing in their statutes and ordinances "Plainly Audible Standards." It translates pretty directly to what it sound like. If sound can be heard from a car stereo at a distance greater than 50 feet it is in violation. If a muffler can be heard from the at a distance of more than 200 feet it is in violation. And so on. I've attached a copy of a paper on the Plainly Audible Standard and how it is used. It is extensively foot-noted to court cases where it has been upheld. THIS is what we should emphasize in Hawaii's noise legislation, and ALL current ordinances/statutes dealing with noise should be modified to implement the Plainly Audible Standard.
Unless you object I'll take the liberty to post your notes and exchanges with Rep Hashem's office on our Blog deleting your name and contact information. Will also post a copy of Bill225, and a copy of the Plainly Audible Standard paper attached here.
Thanks for the note and for passing our link to Rep Hashem and staff.
A Quieter O'ahu
Hi Quieter O'ahu,
I just posted a comment on your website about HB225 and was not sure how to attach the proposed HB225 that I referenced in my comments.
Attached is a copy of HB225 that was sent to me by Michael Leong of Representative Mark Hashem’s office along with my email comments to him. I had a follow-up call with him on the matter – somewhat frustrating – as I questioned him on the enforcement issue. He himself had previously contacted HPD and discovered the enforcement/lack of noise meter issue.
His current position is that the bill had been filed. It is a start and hopefully the dialogue on the enforcement issue will ensue.
I am somewhat ignorant of the issues. Hopefully you can provide meaningful input to them.