She doesn't say what tipped her over the edge. Perhaps some punkistry. Perhaps a 15-minute conga drum solo. But Veda B. Wilson of Northwest made one thing perfectly clear. She and other apartment dwellers have had it up to here with the loud music being inflicted on them by their neighbors.
"I live in a small, four-unit building near Missouri Avenue in a block made up of such buildings, wall against wall," Veda writes. "In the adjacent building, in the apartment which is on the other side of the wall from mine, lives a * &* 3/4 who plays his music so loudly that I can not only feel the vibrations through my carpeted floor, but also can barely hear my own television in my living room . . . .
"I've lost count of the times I've gone next door to ask him to turn the music down. I've also lost count of the times that I or my landlady, who does not live in the building have called the police, who don't see this as a priority item, and treat it accordingly . . . .
"The police tell me that D.C. law forbids the loud playing of music between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. Fine! But does that mean that for 14 hours of the day, a person can be deafened by another's noise? Or that one either has to live in ear plugs, or move?"
Charles Stephens, a housing inspector for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and Thomas Butler, the chief inspector, got on the phone simultaneously with this explanation:
If you call the police with a loud music complaint, they'll first determine if the complaint is valid, or if it's just a question of one person not liking another's taste in music.
If it is a question of excessive noise, the police will summon a housing inspector. Inspectors measure the noise with a meter. If the meter shows more than 60 decibels between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., or more than 55 decibels between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., the police will write the loud music fan a $50 ticket.
If a second ticket has to be written, it will be for $100. The third will be for $150. After the third, the music fan will be arrested. However, Stephens and Butler say that one $50 ticket usually straightens things out just fine.
If you want to file a noise complaint with the inspectors, call 727-7709. But Stephens and Butler advise you to call police if the incident is taking place outside of normal business hours. That way, there will be an independent witness when the inspectors enter the case the next morning.
The one thing you shouldn't do is fight fire with fire. If somebody likes loud music, he probably won't be affected if you retaliate by trying to blast him out of his socks. The cops and the inspectors are there to handle such things. Let them do what they do best.