Graduate Project


Soundscape Policy: Noise Pollution as an Issue in Oregon Municipalities Public Deposited

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  • Noise is an environmental issue uniquely harmful to public welfare but essential to a well-functioning modern economy. Given the prevalence of noise especially in urban soundscapes, noise pollution has been recognized as a negative externality and an environmental stressor and thus has become an issue in public policy. Yet, as there is no leadership or uniformity of regulatory standards for noise pollution on a national level in the United States, much of the regulatory burden has fallen to municipalities which have fewer resources but a relatively wide latitude to craft their own noise policies. This study samples Oregon municipalities to assess the demographic, economic, and political characteristics of municipalities which influence municipal response to noise pollution. Logistic regression modeling shows that the likelihood of Oregon cities’ having a high response to noise pollution is most strongly determined by per capita city government expenditures, with population density and labor composition also proving to be influential. Finally, a case study on the City of Portland reveals the experience of a city with a detailed and balanced regulatory scheme including a noise ordinance, a process to collect citizen noise complaints, and variance process to permit otherwise unlawful (but economically beneficial) noise. Yet, Portland’s relatively ambitious noise control policy provides notable exemption for several loud construction tools including pile drivers, and after a years-long public debate over a proposal to remove the pile driving exemption, it was upheld after the city made only modest changes to its construction noise policy.
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