Lost amid the deafening praise for Downtown Los Angeles’s reconstitution as modern urban renaissance is the deafening daily noise that accompanies Downtown LA’s reconstruction as modern urban renaissance.
Mayor Garcetti, make no mistake, this is a citizen’s cry for help. You may not know me, but you know of 50,000 of my like-minded denizens. And in a city where less than 10 percent of the four million inhabitants ever actually deign to vote, that’s a fairly solid demo. You even look like one of us.
Oh I know, we downtowners neither engender nor practice much sympathy, but trust me, all our geo-local social media push-polling demonstrates that the DTLA dweller is an upwardly-mobile, future-grasping, diverse demographic, crying for segmentation, and ripe for political cultivation. We are each and all keenly aware of the problem.
No doubt there’s a lot to love and recommend about emergent DTLA. We host several of America’s finest new restaurants, boast avant-garde architecture, and toast a vibrantly evolving cultural tableau.
As well as plenty not to love. For there is nearly as much to despise as adore about this molten stage downtown nouveau. Inexplicable traffic seizures, an onslaught of hoverboards, and usurious rents. For each of these reasons and more, I hereby humbly apologize. Please, send help.
Whether one regards the emergence of DTLA as a modern positive parable, or derides this rise as rife with negative socioeconomic displacement, you’re both right. And if you’re conflicted, all you need to do is live here a week to experience the stimulating heights and schizoid depths of this constantly changing ecosystem. Enthralling scenes of playful resurrection, punctuated by wafts of wayfaring weed, attended by throngs of natural-acting Airbnb schleppers. Forgive us, we lifelong suburbanites are still new to the sprawling perils and Faustian bargains of urban living.
And then, at 6:30 am each weekday comes the pain. It registers deep in the inner ear and shoots right up your temple.
There is a dramatic decibel difference contrasting the inescapable ear-piercing drone of downtown L.A. daylight hours, and the tranquil buzz of DTLA at night and weekends.
But the only noise that really matters wakes up six mornings a week: And it’s those God forsaken backup beepers every misbegotten construction adjacent vehicle in the county blares on stadium mode everywhere they idle. These devices, also known as vehicle motion alarms, chime at a jarring 97 to 112 decibels. Hearing damage starts at 80 decibels. Each of these tens of thousands of blasted daily pleats are audible up to 3 kilometers away.
To place the situation in perspective, there are 220 blocks to Downtown Los Angeles, comprising 16 districts. And per Los Angeles Downtown News, there are at present no less than 106 different major construction projects. Each with its own attendant fleet of loudly reversing vehicles. Each with their yawping beeps audible up to 1.5 miles away. Sneaking in their pleat daily, teasing that magical pre-6:30 am dawn, mildly traumatizing all of those consigned to live within earshot.
In fact, pretty much all of them are in reverse at all times. Why? For the same reason you use reverse to parallel park your car: because tractors, diggers and forklifts all angle far better when handled in reverse. Even the cherry-pickers, which are stationary beasts, chime mercilessly as their basket ascends upward, apparently to warn any lingering airspace faeries. Which truly points up the rampant silliness of the entire situation. Machines blare chimes at teeth-jarringly amplified pitches, ostensibly to protect innocent bystanders, none of whom are actually ever present on any of these professional construction lots.
So you assume these maddening bleeps are mandated to alert bypassing fellow construction workers. No. It would make sense, but in actuality they are not. For it is plain to see and galling to observe that all the nearby-working laborers sport thick noise-muting ear wear designed principally to snuff out the very signal that must by OSHA decree be blared in their honor.
Hammering, loading, garbage hauling—all are legitimate and necessary byproducts of urban development and city living. Backup beepers are decidedly not. They’re a scourge, and a needless one. The City of London valiantly banned these gratuitous noisemakers, to muted fanfare and soothed senses citywide.
This is where you, Mayor Garcetti, can lead with the pen to galvanize and command a struggling generation of poised online donors, community shakers, and platform tastemakers. Stop the insanity, ban the beepers, silence the chimes, and make L.A. great again. Let me rephrase that. Help us common sense innovate to embody that transcendent modern city on a hill that innovatively holds the line against widespread urban noise pollution. Which San Francisco will just haaate.
Please, we beg of you, legislate these needless nuisances out of circulation, Mr. Mayor, and you will surely be hailed and rewarded by your grateful subjects. And suddenly the coolest new city in America will also rank most blissfully at peace. Like Vancouver.