Heading into summer, Jersey City residents have noticed an uptick in noise pollution. From music blaring at 3 a.m. to excessive fireworks use, residents are growing tired of what they say is a lack of response from the city.

A resident of Randolph Avenue, who asked that her name not be used, said her neighbors caused two fireworks-related fires outside her apartment.

“I went to a public safety meeting and told an officer about it,” she said. “I looked him right in the eye and said, ‘It’s very frightening as a resident to be calling 911 and non-emergency, and you’re waiting and you’re waiting, thinking, ‘please respond,’ and they do not respond. That’s frightening.’ If I wasn’t home, my apartment would have been destroyed. It was so severe that the windows in my living room cracked from the heat touching the glass. And still, there was no police response.” 

Although statewide sound level standards are set at 50 decibels starting at 10 PM, she said neighbors blast music from parked cars throughout the night and all day on weekends. 

The city council approved a noise ordinance in 2016, requiring that any music played outside not be “plainly audible” from a distance of 50 feet during the day, 25 at night. Certified noise-control officers are supposed to enforce this rule and can fine violators up to $1,000. The resident said she’s made complaints to the police department since 2014 and on SeeClickFix since 2019, nothing has been done. 

The Jersey City Times was able to obtain reports filed with SeeClickFix confirming that complaints about loud outdoor music have been ongoing at the location.

“It seems like the last three years in general, quality of living here has gone down, and the noise pollution is part of it.”

“The music is so loud that the vibration sets off car alarms,” she said. “My pets, my neighbor’s pets, they all scream when that music starts. We have a few infant babies in the building, and they start to scream. It’s chaos for everyone. My neighbor upstairs said, ‘You can’t take phone calls, can’t watch TV, can’t listen to your own music. You can’t hear anything. You just have to lay down and hope it’ll be over soon.’ That’s no way to live.”

The police were of little help. An officer who attended a neighborhood meeting told her “the presence of a police car may escalate things” and that “nothing can be done about the music blasting during the daytime.” 

Jordan Murphy, a York and Barrow Streets resident for 17 years, said he’s experienced similar disturbances.

“It seems like the last three years in general, quality of living here has gone down, and the noise pollution is part of it,” Murphy said. “It’s basically, I hate to say it, but like a lawlessness. It’s just a constant free-for-all – music, fireworks, motorcyclists. When I speak with other people that I’ve known from the community for quite some time, the general consensus is that it’s loud, it’s hectic, and it’s not the way it used to be.” 

In Jersey City Heights, the problem isn’t any better. A resident there explained that as warehouses have relocated to Jersey City, trucks and trailers drive by their house at all hours. 

“You have a ton of diesel exhaust. That’s an air quality problem,” he said. “And you’ll have a ton of what they call downshifting that creates a ridiculously loud reverberation that sometimes will shake the house. I don’t blame people for driving. It’s just that it’s crazy loud, and I’m trying to figure out ways to minimize it at least a little bit.” He’s already invested over $3,000 in air purifiers for his home.

“When it was just me and my wife, I was like, ‘Whatever, we’ll deal with it.’ But now we have a one-year-old daughter,” he said. “I just want to bring awareness to this. Hopefully there’ll be some sort of pressure to do something, even just putting up signs like, ‘No honking at certain times.’ I feel like everybody has a complaint and everybody knows that it’s a serious problem, but nobody does anything about it. And a lot of people in the area feel like they can’t do anything about it.”

On Astor Place, residents are dealing with loud tractor trailers too. A resident explained that a food pantry started out of the high school behind his house during the pandemic. The semi-trucks run as late as midnight, and the noise wakes up his one-and-a-half-year-old child.  

“I think it was something that was good, especially during COVID times,” he said. “But this last year it has grown out of hand. They have at least 3,000 people coming in on the weekends to collect food. So obviously it’s needed, but I think the size, what it’s grown to, should be somewhere else, not brought into a residential area. Tractor trailers aren’t even supposed to be allowed in a residential neighborhood, but our complaints have gone nowhere.”

He’s complained to the Board of Education, councilmembers, the police and the pantry itself, but was told nothing can be done. 

“My wife got a non-emergency number to call and complain about noise, but when you call, they’re like, ‘What are you calling for?’ It’s condescending the way they talk to you.”

In an article this month, The New York Times reported on research showing that excessive noise is “a largely unrecognized health threat that is increasing the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart attacks worldwide, including for more than 100 million Americans.”

Indeed, a Jersey City ordinance states that, “excessive sound is a serious hazard to the public health, welfare, safety and quality of life. The people have a right to and should be ensured of an environment free from excessive sound.”

In 2020, to much fanfare, the city created the Quality of Life Taskforce charged with enforcing code violations such as excessive noise. “Now we are going to have overnight inspectors that can take sound readings on restaurants. We are going to have overnight inspectors in case a tenant works multiple jobs and needs Housing Code to come check something out” said its chief, Jake Hudnut, at the time.

If the Taskforce is enforcing noise ordinances, however, the city isn’t letting on. The Jersey City Times made an Open Public Records Request for documentation of noise complaints made in the last year. The response was that it did not maintain this information.

JCT also reached out to the mayor’s press secretary Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione for comment and did not receive a response.

Hannah just graduated college, where she majored in writing and communications. In her free time she enjoys baking, reading, and trying new coffee shops.