Letter to the Editor: The Noise Pollution Problem


After reading the article “Future of Observation Wheel Up in the Air” in the March 2021 Richmond Review, it was surprising to me that there was concern for the welfare of wildlife due to “light pollution.”  A far larger and more harmful issue by far is playing out every day and night particularly at the corner of Fulton and Park Presidio.  The levels of noise coming from illegal straight pipe exhausts, “fartcan exhausts,”  and revving motorcycles is deafening for humans.  I cannot even begin to comprehend what the noise sounds like to the wildlife.  Even within the park, loud motorcycles cruise through the park throttling at very strong decimals.  All along Park Presidio, there are paths on the East and West sides that allow for wildlife to move from Golden Gate Park and The Presidio.  These stretches of green space are well maintained by the City Parks.

The noise is far above the legal limit set by the State of California.  It consistently roars on especially when the lights turn green and motorcycles rev up and speed on to the next light.  Cars with modified mufflers and motorcycles can be heard far beyond the 30 foot legal limit.  At the end of a busy Saturday or Sunday and rush hours, my nerves are frazzled from listening to the consistent noise from inside my house.  The effects on wildlife must be tremendous as their hearing is far superior to mine.

I would encourage The Richmond Review to bring the noise pollution in and around Golden Gate Park to the attention of your readers.  This situation is a far greater environmental concern to wildlife, not to mention illegal, than a temporary observation wheel whose lights can be shut off.  I am sure a petition could be gathered from homeowners along Fulton and Park Presidio who are subjected to the noise pollution on a daily basis and who are also concerned for the wildlife who have no voice and struggle to exist without the help of the extreme noise levels.

For your reference:
1. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&division=12.&title=&part=&chapter=5.&article=2.5.
2.  California Vehicle Code 27151. Modification of exhaust systems –
(a) No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of the vehicle so that the vehicle is not in compliance with the provisions of Section 27150 or exceeds the noise limits established for the type of vehicle in Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 27200). No person shall operate a motor vehicle with an exhaust system so modified.(b) For the purposes of exhaust systems installed on motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of less than 6,000 pounds, other than motorcycles, a sound level of 95 dbA or less, when tested in accordance with Society of Automotive Engineers Standard J1169 May 1998, complies with this section. Motor vehicle exhaust systems or parts thereof include, but are not limited to, non original exhaust equipment.
3.  Sound is measured in decibels (dB).  A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine (not modified) running is about 95 dB.  Vacuum cleaners or chainsaws operate at about 70 dB.  How loud is 95 dB?  Most factory-installed exhaust systems even on powerful sports cars don’t exceed 75 decibels.

  • a lawn mower
  • the inside of a subway car
  • plane overhead at 1,000 feet
  • food blender less than 3 feet away
  • car horn at 10 feet

(You can do a quick, fairly accurate decibel test using a phone app. Decibel X for iPhone and Sound Meter for Android are some of the more popular ones.) 

Donna Colby, RN, BSN, LHRM, CMRP

1 reply »

  1. I completely agree. The noise levels along the whole of Park Presidio exceed any legal or even reasonable limits. I will 100% back your petition!


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