Howard Shook, an Atlanta city councilmember representing Buckhead’s District 7, introduced legislation Sept. 5 to repeal the noise ordinance, but acknowledged in the press release that the move was meant to get the attention of city officials.

“It was meant to let people know not everyone ignores this issue, “ Shook said in an interview.

Howard Shook.

The noise ordinance is unenforced in most cases, especially regarding an unnamed Buckhead bar that has drawn numerous noise complaints, but has not received a citation, he said.

“The [noise ordinance] raises false expectations and it is a fraud on the public,” Shook said.

Shook said he introduced legislation after becoming frustrated with the lack of enforcement of the noise ordinance and failed attempts at fixing it.

The legislation says that the noise ordinance “falsely suggests that the City of Atlanta cares about its citizen’s right to the quiet enjoyment of their property during nighttime and early morning hours” and “has all the effectiveness of mammary glands on a fish.”

The legislation to repeal the ordinance also says that sound meters owned by the city “are to be deemed surplus property and sold as doorstops.”

The legislation comes after a group formed in Buckhead to combat what they say is unreasonable motorcycle noise on Peachtree Road. The group held its first meeting Sept. 7 to sign a petition and discuss its next moves.

The city code requires noise stays under certain decibel levels, but part of the problem, residents say, is the motorcycles are gone before police can come to the area to measure the noise. Residents complain motorcycles rev the engines, speed, and have altered them to create amplified noise.

Jaci Johnson, who lives in the Buckhead Forest neighborhood, is helping lead the group and hopes to get the noise ordinance enforced or changed if it is unenforceable. Johnson said about 10 people came to the meeting, which she said was a disappointing turnout.

However, they are distributing a petition to send to city councilmembers and Zone 2 of the Atlanta Police Department. They will also speak at the Sept. 18 city council meeting and they hope to present audio of what they say is unreasonable motorcycle noise.

Johnson said they hope to receive at least 100 signatures. The petition calls for more consistent enforcement of the noise ordinance. Johnson said her group is happy to have Shook’s support to fix the noise ordinance, and would provide community support if he contacted them. So far, their emails to him have gone unanswered, she said.

“We appreciate his action, and if he wants support I would think he would reach out to the community,” Johnson said.

Johnson acknowledged problems with noise and the ordinance are not new, and wonders why the city has not been more motivated to enforce it.

“I know it has a history here. It’s an ongoing problem and it hasn’t been addressed, maybe because the funding or the will isn’t there,” she said.
Motorcycles are tricky, Shook said, because they produce a loud noise, but are still legal unless it can be proven they are altered to be louder.

“It’s not illegal to ride a motorcycle. Unless you can prove they are intentionally doing it, you aren’t going to win a case in court,” Shook said. “There are no enforceable laws to use.”

Still, Shook hopes to find a solution to this ongoing problem and overall problems with a lack of enforcement of the noise ordinance, he said.

“We need to truly fix it and enforce it,” he said.

One reply on “Buckhead councilmember calls for repeal of the noise ordinance”

  1. Council member Shook does not seem to have a through understanding of the issue of noise pollution and what can be done about it. Repealing the city’s noise ordinance is not that way to go about addressing the problem of the lax enforcement of the noise ordinance. But it may be helpful to make revisions to the noise ordinance to render parts of it more practical to enforce. As Council member Shook correctly pointed out, he use of decibel meters to enforce the ordinance is not practical for many noise issues like excessively loud motorcycles.

    Council member Shook says that “Motorcycles are tricky because they produce a loud noise, but are still legal unless it can be proven they are altered to be louder”, and that “It’s not illegal to ride a motorcycle. Unless you can prove they are intentionally doing it, you aren’t going to win a case in court; there are no enforceable laws to use.”

    But there are enforceable laws that address motorcycles that do not require measuring how loud they are or require showing that their riders are intentionally violating those laws or intentionally causing excessive noise. Wherever did Council member Shook get that idea? Perhaps he got it from city officials who don’t want to be bothered to enforce any part of the city’s noise ordinance or are clueless of how to proplerly deal with loud motorcycles or any other noise issue.

    Council member Shook is mistaken to believe that motorcyles are manufactured to produce loud noise. They are not. All highway and off-road motorcycles manufactured since 1983 are regulated by federal law which limits their noise emissions so that they are not excessively loud. And federal law also regulates their mufflers and prohibits removing or altering them to make sure motorcycles remain quiet at all times while they are in use and authorizes the states and their political subdivisions to incorporate the federal motorcycle regulations into their laws and noise ordinances and enforce it as their own laws.

    Council member Shook is entirely correct to point out the root cause of excessively loud motorcycles by saying “unless it can be proven they are altered to be louder altered to be louder”. But he doesn’t quite have that right. With a properly worded ordinance it is not necessary to prove motorcycles have been altered to be louder than as originally manufactured. By making use of the federal law it is only necessary to prove that motorcycle have has their mufflers or exhaust systems altered in violation of the federal motorcycle muffler standard. And that is very practical to enforce, provided there is the will to enforce it.

    The reason why some motorcycles are excessively loud is due primarily to the fact that their mufflers have been unlawfully altered and that is the best and most practical way to deal with that noise pollution issue.

    Noise Free America has published a “Guide to Modified Exhausts” that addresses the loud motorcycle noise problem in detail and shows exactly how to most effectively deal with it.…/dp/1610353129

    I suggest Council member Shook and Jaci Johnson contact Noise Free America ( on how to best deal with the loud motorcycle issue.

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