Spring 2003, p.7

Sensible Transportation
Pols Act on T.A. Call to Ban Car Alarms

Councilmembers John Liu (Qns) and Eva Moskowitz (Mnh) have introduced legislation which would ban the installation and further restrict the use of car alarms.

Thanks in part to the arguments put forward in T.A.'s new report, Alarmingly Useless: The Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City, momentum is building to take action on New Yorkers' number one quality of life complaint-car alarms. There are now two separate car alarm bills before Councilmember Jim Gennaro's Environmental Protection Committee. Plus, New York City's antiquated Noise Code is undergoing its first major revision in 30 years.

Councilmember Eva Moskowitz recently introduced legislation enabling the City to issue a car alarm violation to an automobile owner based on a citizen's written or e-mailed complaint. This is a big step forward in enforcement. Under the current law, a police officer is allowed to write a summons only after timing a car alarm to make sure that it has blared for three minutes. The current law is virtually un-enforced. Under the Moskowitz bill, any person would be able to send in an e-mail complaint about a car alarm and, after going through a verification process, the owner of the obnoxious alarm would receive a violation notice from the City. The Moskowitz bill also includes and builds upon strong provisions from an earlier piece of legislation introduced by Councilmember John Liu. The Liu bill makes it illegal to sell or install car alarms in New York City.

Transportation Alternatives supports the efforts of Councilmembers Moskowitz and Liu, but continues to advocate for a total ban of car alarms. These useless devices simply do not work in New York City where well over 99% of the alarms are false and better alternatives exist.

New York City's 30-year-old Noise Code is currently under revision and T.A. has been invited to provide input. Councilmember Gennaro's office has told T.A. that he might bring car alarm legislation to public hearing along with the rest of the Noise Code revisions. But the car alarm issue is not one of his big priorities since he has not heard many complaints about them.

Is this possible? Since issuing Alarmingly Useless, T.A. has been absolutely bombarded with car alarm complaints. Let Gennaro know how you feel!

Write to:
Chair James Gennaro
Environmental Protection Committee
185-10 Union Turnpike
Queens, NY 11366

"Ban Audible Car Alarms!"

Numerous people have written to T.A. to share their reasons for banning audible car alarms in NYC. Here are just a few:

Car alarms are the kind of absurd, self-defeating invention that also makes life unbearable that only Kafka could have thought up.
-Karl Greenberg

I live right across the street from a city bus stop in Brooklyn. All night, each time a bus stops and idles for a few minutes, the vibrations set off the car alarms and wake me up. This is detrimental to my health as I have rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease that is aggravated by stress and sleep deprivation. I am
definitely not motivated to get out of bed to try to prevent anyone from stealing a public nuisance!

One Sunday on my block on the Lower East Side, a car alarm on a car with Connecticut plates went off for 15 hours (10 am to 3 am). Despite repeated calls, the police never appeared until people on the block started damaging the car. Then, suddenly, the cops were able to locate the owner and get it turned off. They arrested the two people they caught vandalizing the car, not the owner.
-Sarah Johnson

Last September I was married in the rear courtyard garden of a historic NYC building. A car alarm went off minutes into the ceremony and blared until the end! The seemingly unending blare has been immortalized on our wedding video.

Thank you! I'm a teacher in Brooklyn.
Car alarms routinely disrupt my classroom teaching; I have to stop talking until
the alarm is through--what a waste of class time!
-Kathleen Axen

I live in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and people drive from further out in Brooklyn, park their cars on my block and then commute on the F train. When one of those car alarms goes off, it goes off all day and into the evening when the commuter gets back from work and dinner in the city. It happened this summer and was torture. Absolute torture. People smeared dog feces on the car, egged it, left angry notes and called the police. The police came and could not get the noise to stop.

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