After thousands of noise complaints in Houston neighborhood, this new tool may help

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston police have a new tool this Christmas to help neighbors enjoy some silent nights.

"This is a big step up in the equipment compared to what we had before," said Sgt. Charles Corgey while showing off a new noise meter.

Thanks to a donation from Houston City Councilwoman Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, the South Central substation has 10 new noise meters to gauge decibel levels at bars, nightclubs and restaurants in real time.

The meters come after a year of thousands of noise complaints.

The substation reported 2,479 loud noise calls from Jan. 1 - Nov. 17 of this year.

"Noise is pollution. It is a health hazard," said Kathleen O'Reilly, the president of the Museum Park Super Neighborhood.

"It's not just, 'Oh, it's just a little noise.' It is a constant stressor on your body," said Renita Thornton with the Washington Terrace Civic Association.

"It wrecks your life," said Stacie Fairchild with the Super Neighborhood Alliance.

These women represent three different areas of Houston's south central side near Washington Ave., Almeda and Emancipation, where bars and nightclubs are prospering, but bringing with them noise pollution from music, cars and crowds.

"It starts on Thursday night at 9 p.m. and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday," said Thornton.

As neighborhood representatives, they speak for many people they say feel trapped in their own homes by the loud noise levels, unable to spend time outside in the evenings.

"You can't use your yard or even your house to your fullest enjoyment," said O'Reilly.

They say the noise level even penetrates their homes.

"You have to turn your television up louder to hear your television," said Thornton.

And then there is the domino effect the constant noise has taken on mental, emotional and physical health.

"You can't sleep, you're anxious. It prevents it from being your best during the day at work," said Fairchild.

But with the donation of noise meters to the South Central substation, these neighbors hope the few bad businesses will truly understand their decibel levels.

Sgt. Corgey tells ABC13 businesses with permits for loud noise can only emit noise up to 75 decibels.

"I think it's a force multiplier. People show up with a sound meter, they know it works, they know it's legally supported," said O'Reilly.

These neighbors say they are not trying to shut down businesses. They're just hoping to turn down the volume.

"The ideal situation is for them to be able to make money and for us to get some sleep," said Fairchild.

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