Noise Cameras to be Installed on Upper West Side

Following numerous complaints made to Gale Brewer’s office about excess noise coming from the West Side Highway, two noise cameras will soon be installed at unspecified locations within the Upper West Side.

These cameras will be installed by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which recently sent Brewer’s office a letter approving her request.


In terms of where this noise comes from, “Many of the issues are the result of illegally modified car mufflers,” the DEP explains.  

The noise cameras are paired with a sound meter and activates when the meter detects a noise of at least 85 decibels from a source at least 50 feet away.” The video captures the offending vehicle’s license plate, DEP reviews the evidence, and the car’s owner gets a notice to appear in the mail.

First time penalties are $800, second offenses are $1,700, and anything further will result in a $2,500 fine.

A pilot program launched in other NYC locations in June 2021, and more are expected to be installed this year.

While the exact locations of the forthcoming cameras have not actually been disclosed, DEP’s Beth DeFalco acknowledges that the technology has flaws – and that installation locations must be chosen extremely carefully.

“We learned lessons during the pilot,” her letter to Gale Brewer stated. “One camera was picking up noise from trucks on a nearby highway and had to be moved further away. Another camera would take a picture of cars in multiple lanes – making it difficult to discern which vehicle was committing the offense. While we have found them to be an effective tool, cameras are not right for every location.” 

Upper West Side drivers who like to crank their music on a factory car radio probably won’t have too much to worry about, because their decibel limit is typically much lower than 85.

The cameras are expected to be installed by the end of August.


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