"Noise is the number one Quality-of-life complaint in New York City" Mayor Micheal R. Bloomberg said this on June 13, 2004. In the 'city that never sleeps' there must be some control over the sound we make, however the control can not only exist as police force,and ticket writing. In 2004 the Department of Environmental Protection received 27,987 noise complaints and 1,449 noise violations. 4 years later in 2008 complaints rose to 49,221, and noise violations rose to 3,420.
Living in New York City their is a distinction between those who own versus those who rent when considering the ability to sound proof a space.
Acoustic consultants are more likely to be working with architects in the planning, and designing stages of a project. This does not allow a renter to have any say in the acoustic design of their space.
The issue with renting an apartment is that you accept the sonic environment, there is little you can do to remedy any noise issues. Realtors recommend viewing an apartment you are really interested in, at 3 times during the day: once in the morning, the afternoon, and at night, in order to hear what the apartment sounds like. Since the 1950's building standards have not changed enough to sound proof your living space from even a loud conversation. Your walls are designed to absorb between 34 and 38 decibels, you can imagine how insufficient this is when noise from a loud conversation can exceed 85db.
This is an important step to take when considering a move, you want to know how well the building is constructed, if you can hear your neighbors through the walls, if traffic noise penetrates the building, or if the location of the apartment is inhabited by mechanical noises made by elevators,or any other mechanized operations in a building.
The city does have hot lines which you can call to make noise complaints. In a best case scenario a Department of Environmental Protection agency representative will go into the field to take noise level readings of the nuisance to determine if the noise is exceeding the limit.
What the agent can do is develop a case for you to take someone to court about very specific noise violations. A judge will mitigate the situation by ordering the noise source to be banned, or modified to reduce sound transmission. Fines, and noise violations are issued by NYPD officers who have been trained to deal with noise violations. Some police officers will carry noise level meters to determine if noise made exceeds allowable levels. Although not all noise sources need to be measured, for example a car stereo if plainly audible at 25 feet can be issued a ticket, or a warning. If someone using an ipod in public transit can be plainly heard at 10 feet, that person can be given a ticket or a warning.
In 2007 New York City's population was 8,310,212 an increase of 301,900 since 2000 and are projected to increase. This means that there are more people in the same amount of space. There will inevitably be more noise, and more complaints.
The method in which noise is dealt with is too slow, it relies on scaring people with tickets to get them to change their behavior. Noise must be made responsibly, and with mitigation.