Two Queens councilmen teamed up to take on noisy auto clubs after receiving a high volume of noise complaints from constituents.
After working directly with local police precincts to address the noise pollution that crews of customized car enthusiasts make in their districts, Councilman Robert Holden and Councilman Paul Vallone proposed a new solution: heavier fines.
On Oct. 31, the councilmen introduced a bill to increase the minimum and maximum fines for certain noise violations. The bill specifically targets the part of the noise code that determines penalties for excessive noise from a personal audio device on or inside a motor vehicle.
The fine for a first offense would be increased from $100 to $200, while the fine for a third offense would increase from $1,000 to $2,100.
“We are fortunate enough to have more space and quieter neighborhoods in the outer boroughs,” Holden said. “That is why my constituents are frustrated when car audio enthusiasts congregate in parking lots and blast music that can be heard from miles away.”
In Holden’s district, the complaints center around Forest Park’s George Seuffert Bandshell, where auto clubs will periodically convene to display their cars.
Holden’s months-long campaign against the car clubs came to a head with a string of incidents in April. After that, he began working with the 102nd Precinct to increase their reaction time to complaints and installed a gate outside bandshell parking lot that will physically enforce a 10 p.m. curfew in the area.
In response to the Forest Park scuffles between auto clubs and the police, Justin Gonzalez, leader of the 2 Exclusive Auto Club, suggested that tickets were not going to stop auto enthusiasts from showing off their audio systems, on which they can spend anywhere between $25,000 to $30,000.
Vallone’s spokeswoman Suzanne Monteverdi said that this level of investment motivated the decision to try to increase the fine.
“Since they’re putting all these funds into increasing their sound systems, it was our hope that increasing the fines would be more of a deterrent,” said Monteverdi.
For Vallone’s constituents in Whitestone, many of the complaints originate from auto meet-ups across the East River in Throggs Neck before floating over the water into earshot of waterfront homeowners of Whitestone. In addressing the complaints, Vallone’s office has worked with the 45th Precinct in the Bronx.
“For too long, car owners with vehicles equipped with excessive sound systems have congregated in our parks and public spaces and disturbed quality of life for New York City residents,” said Vallone.