From the department of “man bites dog,” we bring you the story of a woman apparently using excessive force on police. She has called 911 “once or twice every night” for the past 21 months to complain about noise coming from Neighbours, a gay dance club that has operated on Broadway since the early 1980s. Her calls began in June 2007, when she moved into a low-income, partially subsidized apartment building at East Pine Street and Broadway, on the same block as the dance club. The most recent complaint on record, made at 2 a.m. last Friday night, summoned the police.
The responding officer notes in a report that the woman “calls nightly to complain about music from this club…. She is the only person who calls to complain. She has told officers in the past that she wants to close this club down and will call as many times as it takes to accomplish this.”
The woman, a 56-year-old retired nurse who asked not to be named, denies that she is trying to shut down the club. “I would call the police once or twice every night,” she confirms, sitting in her one-bedroom apartment, which looks south onto the roof of Neighbours and toward First Hill. It smells strongly of her two medium-sized dogs. “I’m an old rock ‘n roll queen from way back when, and if it was just music I was hearing, it would be fine,” she says. “But what we hear is bass and bass only. And it has been so loud in the past that the windows rattle.” She says drunken throngs in the alley are also noisy.
As a solution, the woman proposes that Neighbours close by 2 a.m. (the dance club is open until 3 a.m. on Thursdays and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). She also thinks club security should usher people in the alley down to Pike Street, away from her building.
The woman acknowledges that police resources are limited, but says that police asked her to call 911 to deal with "noise, prostitutions or drug dealing," she says.
John Kmetz, who has managed Neighbours’ sound and lighting system for the past 15 years, says that the club tried to address noise concerns in mid-January by installing sound insulation on the ceiling, covering skylights, and capping the sound system’s volume. “This place has been here for 27 years and she just moved in here,” he says. “I think she shouldn’t be complaining."
“Clearly the noise ordinance is not in effect or else the city would be fining Neighbours $1000 a week,” the woman says.
But the city noise ordinance, which passed in December 2007, only penalizes bars and clubs amplifying noise that is "plainly audible" from inside nearby buildings. However, the police report from last Friday says, “There was not enough noise coming from the club for a violation.” The officer adds: “I could faintly hear the sound of music coming from far off but I could not determine if it was coming from the club. Passing vehicular and pedestrian traffic was much louder.”
Lashunda Perez, a resident of the building, says, “When I moved in, they told me that it gets loud on the weekends. It’s not very disturbing to me.”