Jerusalem Seeks to Expand Street Event Hours, Despite Noise Complaints

Residents of the downtown area say the amplified noise will 'make their lives unbearable.'

Revelers celebrate the Purim holiday in Jerusalem, March 25, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Jerusalem municipality has been promoting an amendment to a local bylaw that would allow the mayor to add nine days during which the city can hold outdoor activities during the hours when noise is usually restricted, between 2 P.M. and 4 P.M., and after 11 P.M.

Local laws already allow for five such days, among them Purim and Independence Day.

Residents of the downtown area object to the proposal, saying it will negatively impact their quality of life. Last week Ofir Lang, who heads the Lev Ha’ir Community Council, wrote to Mayor Nir Barkat about the issue, saying, “The proposed amendment will cancel the existing restrictions in the Hazards Prevention Law, in that it allows the holding of public events with sound systems, loudspeakers and other amplifiers, out in the open near or adjacent to buildings with residential units.”

Residents of the downtown area noted that even on normal days they suffer from noise and sanitation nuisances that the city doesn’t deal with properly because it lacks an effective enforcement policy. The residents added they were not consulted about the new proposal, which they say would intensify the noise problem and make their lives unbearable.

That major events are a noise nuisance is evident from data reported by the city’s environment department. According to the department, on days when events are permitted to exceed the hours designated by the city bylaw, the noise generated downtown reaches 180 times the permitted levels.

The municipality responded that being allowed nine more days to hold outdoor events that may impede on the afternoon rest hours or run late into the night, “would allow the municipality to hold important events in the city that would contribute to the city’s businesses and benefit residents, visitors and tourists. The proposal has the approval of the Environmental Protection Ministry.”