Stringer plan will ban non-essential helicopter trips
Other proposals would target the city’s noisiest neighborhoods and tackle harmful noise pollution from sirens, subways, and other traffic
Stringer: “Too often, New Yorkers step outside and are greeted with a noisy helicopter circling overhead or a car alarm blaring across the street. It’s not pleasant, it’s not necessary, and it’s time we do something about it.”
New York, NY – City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer today stood at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, the only heliport that hosts tourist flights originating from Manhattan, to unveil his “Hear Our Noise Complaints!” (“H.O.N.C.!”) agenda, a series of new reforms to reduce noise pollution across the five boroughs, beginning with a ban on non-essential helicopter flights.
As Mayor, Stringer would launch a citywide noise reduction project to address excessive and harmful noise from helicopters, emergency sirens, subways, motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) — including illegal drag racing, noisy subway tracks, and car alarms.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said: “Too often, New Yorkers step outside and are greeted with a noisy helicopter circling overhead or a car alarm blaring across the street. It’s not pleasant, it’s not necessary, and it’s time we do something about it. I have a plan that puts New Yorkers’ health and quality of life first, and as Mayor, I’ll take sweeping action to make the city more welcoming to New Yorkers of all ages.”
Congressmember Jerry Nadler said: “This surge in non-essential helicopter traffic is bad for our health and bad for our environment — and it’s dangerous for those in the air and on the ground. For years, I have worked with my colleagues in Congress and urged the FAA to crack down on the helicopters plaguing our neighborhoods, and Scott Stringer will be the Mayor who acts decisively to ground the helicopters and cut down the unnecessary noise in this city on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said: “New Yorkers already suffer through so much unnecessary noise, and the next mayor needs to finally do something about it. The honking and the screeching may be part of everyday life, but they don’t have to be — and Scott Stringer is the only candidate in this race with a concrete plan to do something about it. From our youngest neighbors to our oldest, all New Yorkers will benefit from Scott’s work on this issue, and I’ll be proud to work with him every step of the way to get it done.”
Noise pollution impacts all New Yorkers. An estimated 90 percent of New York City residents are exposed to harmful levels of noise, leading to sleep disruption, hearing loss, hypertension, and even heart disease. This is particularly harmful for children who can experience decreased memory levels and other educational impacts.
Stringer’s proposals to reduce noise include:
- Ban non-essential helicopter flights: Stringer will take decisive action to end noisy, unnecessary helicopter fly-overs by shutting down New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) operated heliports for private and commercial use. An analysis by THE CITY showed that complaints to 311 regarding helicopter noise have risen by more than 130% in 2020 compared to 2019. Stringer would direct the NYPD to scale back use of helicopters and work with entities like news stations that make use of helicopters to cut down on their use. Stringer also expressed his strong support for federal legislation recently introduced by Congressmember Jerry Nadler, the Improving Helicopter Safety Act, which would drastically reduce helicopter traffic and associated noise.
- Monitor noise levels across New York City and target noise hotspots: As Mayor, Stringer will empower the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to identify and target noise hotspots as a matter of public health by working with academic researchers and health experts to distribute a network of noise sensors and noise monitoring technology across the city. The City’s noise mapping pilot will build off of existing studies and focus on collecting data in areas where noise may imperil New Yorkers’ health and mental well-being, including subway stations, areas adjacent to highways, or areas with concentrations of 311 complaints. Moreover, Stringer will modernize and update the Department of Environmental Protection’s fleet of sound meters to ensure more responsive enforcement of the City’s current noise code.
- Expand pilot programs that deliver quieter emergency siren technology: Stringer proposed working with first responders to develop a pilot to retrofit vehicles with modern sirens that utilize high-low European-style tones or test the use of quieter, more directional siren technology. Fire, police, and ambulance sirens can clock in at a blaring 115-130 decibels, enough to cause hearing damage, awaken sleeping neighbors, and harm first responders. Private hospitals have already developed quieter siren programs, and under Stringer’s direction, the City will study how wider adoption of the technology can help reduce noise pollution without sacrificing safety.
- Increase fines relating to unnecessary honking or car alarms: Stringer will take action against honking and car alarms, and he’ll support legislation to increase fines. In particular, Stringer will take to task car owners with excessive complaints from car alarms sounding off at night by levying a substantial fine.
- Address vehicle noise with cleaner, quieter alternatives: Stringer will work to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, including electric garbage trucks and electric school buses, which are significantly quieter than internal-combustion vehicles. As the Department of Sanitation implements its commercial waste franchise zone plan, Stringer will incorporate strategies to cut down on noise generated by overnight waste disposal activities. Stringer will also equip certain NYPD patrol cars with decibel meters to help their enforcement of illegal vehicle noise.
- Invest in modern technology to limit subway noise: Stringer will work with the MTA to monitor and address noise within subway stations. In several stations across the city, noise levels can exceed 100 decibels as trains rush in and out. Stringer will push the MTA to move ahead with technologies that can stifle unnecessary noise, including continuously welded rails, track lubrication, and better design. Stringer will push for the installation of permanent decibel meters in certain stations to ensure that New Yorkers’ hearing is being kept safe when they ride the subway.
- Curb rampant drag racing and get ATVs off the streets: Stringer will direct the Department of Transportation to track incidents of drag and street racing and expand education outreach and create new accountability incentives to ensure gas stations, storage companies, and garages are not serving illegal dirt bikes and unlicensed vehicles — exploring new options to levy and increase fines on gas stations and storage companies that violate these rules.
- Phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers: Stringer will seek legislation phasing out the use of obnoxiously loud and notoriously polluting leaf blowers and lawn mowers. A single leaf blower operating for just one hour can generate the same amount of carbon monoxide emissions as a car operating for over eight hours. Stringer will implement a phase-out of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers, starting with an immediate transition to cleaner and quieter electric alternatives by the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation.
Video of the press conference available here.
Scott Stringer grew up in Washington Heights in the 1970s. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school.
Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1992 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.