Brooklyn Boro

For citizens and clubs to coexist, a councilmember has the solution: Soundproofing

September 27, 2018 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Rafael Espinal introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require all new nightlife venues built within one mile of a residential building, or vice versa, to install soundproofing. Photo by Emil Cohen

New York City is loud enough with its incessant honking, blaring sirens and barking dogs, not to mention the crying baby down the hall in apartment 4B.

In “The City That Never Sleeps,” where businesses and residences are built in close proximity, noise pollution is ubiquitous, particularly on weekends when patrons of bars and clubs spill out onto the street.

One councilmember, however, is proposing a way for nightlife venues and residencies to coexist harmoniously.

Councilmember Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, East New York) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require both new residential developments built near established nightlife venues and new nightlife venues built near established residences to soundproof their new buildings.

“In recent years, we’ve witnessed the rapid rise of the nightlife industry in New York, including DIY venues mostly concentrated in Williamsburg and Bushwick,” Espinal told the Brooklyn Eagle. “But the arrival of new clubs in residential neighborhoods and large developments being built near popular nightlife spots feeds a vicious cycle of displacement and declining quality-of-life.”

“By requiring owners of new residential buildings and venues to pay for soundproofing, we can reduce these conflicts and ensure everyone is being a good neighbor,” he added.

The Agent of Change bill would require new nightlife venues built within one mile of a residential building, or vice versa, to have a minimum noise rating of zero.

New buildings would be required to install soundproofing rubber around the doorframe of exits and entrances at the very least.

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Espinal said he spoke with restaurant owners in Bushwick who have taken a hit to their bottom line due to an inundation of noise complaints, and said his bill would help entrepreneurs stay afloat, while also keeping residents happy in their homes.  

A potential concern for developers and venue owners, however, could be the added cost of soundproofing buildings. One hundred square feet of wall soundproofing costs roughly $5,000 to $8,000, according to Michael LaFratta, owner of Silentium Soundproofing in Queens.

The same amount for ceilings could be as much as $7,000 to $11,000, while soundproofing flooring ranges from $7,000 to $9,000, LaFratta said.

That could add at least an additional $19,000 to each room, which might create higher rents for tenants.

Espinal has been an active advocate for bettering the city’s nightlife and acting as a liaison between city government and music venues.

He led an effort to repeal the Cabaret Law, an antiquated and draconian law that prohibited dancing in venues that did not possess a cabaret license. Those certificates were extremely difficult to receive, and only 17 venues in Brooklyn and 88 in the entire city had the license.

Those strict regulations caused many iconic Brooklyn DIY venues to close, including Death By Audio, Glasslands and Shea Stadium.

In addition, Espinal led a movement to create an Office of Nightlife and a Nightlife Advisory Board led by Night Mayor Ariel Palitz.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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