Downtown DC Residents Beg for Relief From Street Musician Noise

A blind woman said the noise is so intense she can't use voice-over programs she needs

Street musicians drum on buckets day and night, and amplified music blares.

You live in a busy, bustling city, but how much noise is too much noise?

Dozens of downtown D.C. residents attended a D.C. Council meeting on Monday to ask for relief from street noise. They urged officials to enforce noise laws or pass tougher ones.

David Mitchell and his daughter, Emma Mitchell, said the commotion has a serious impact on their lives. Emma Mitchell is blind and uses voice-activated computer programs.

"The noise is so significant that our daughter cannot use her software voice-over programs to complete her homework, read or perform other tasks of daily living," David Mitchell said.

Emma Mitchell sometimes stays at George Washington University because the noise at home is so intense.

"I use [the program] VoiceOver on my Mac, and it allows me to write papers via dictation, and without the computer and my iPhone, I wouldn't be able to interact with the world," she said. 


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The Mitchells moved to Gallery Place to enjoy the vibrancy of the city, not to endure the endless music that invades their upper-floor home.

Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans represents downtown D.C. He said nearly 10,000 people live there now with lots of intrusive noise.

Labor union leaders said noise laws can't be allowed to inhibit their demonstrations. John Boardman of Unite Here, Local 25 urged the city to enforce current laws worked out years ago.

"The Council was very, very good about drafting them. What we have in a number of situations is a lack of enforcement," he said.

It's unclear when or if the Council will take any new action on noise.

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