Boom box noise woes may grow Carmakers adding powerful stereos

By Sarah Anchors

The Arizona Republic

Nov. 8, 2002

Carmakers are putting powerful sound systems in their 2003 cars, and that could mean more party jams echoing on Phoenix streets.

But one driver's music is often another listener's hurting ears.

In Phoenix, lawmakers have tried to turn down the volume on booming boxes. The city prohibits playing a vehicle stereo or radio so loud as to "annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of any person or neighborhood in the vicinity."

Those breaking the peace may be fined at least $50 the first time, and higher amounts for subsequent offenses.

Phoenix police Officer Terry Sills, traffic complaint coordinator, said he gets at least two complaints a day about loud music, sometimes about people "cruising," driving up and down a neighborhood street blasting their stereos.

Linda Slaughter, president of the Desert View Neighborhood Block Watch, said loud stereos are an increasing problem in her area, in northern central Phoenix.

"If I can hear every word, I'm going to call because it's way too loud," Slaughter said.

Sills said drivers with loud ca r stereos are hard to catch because, "Unless we're there it's hard to stop them."

He advises annoyed neighbors to write down the offender's license plate number and pass it along, so Sills can call the owner and ask him or her to stop.

That's a tall order said Susan Perkins of the Village Meadows Concerned Citizens Association.

"They're too fast and it's mostly in the evening. You can't see the license plate," Perkins said, adding that following the offender could be dangerous.

Other neighborhood activists say loud stereos are a bother, but not a priority. F.C. Slaght III, a member of the state neighborhood coalition NAILEM, said his Westwood neighbors complain regularly about loud stereos, but the community has bigger fish to fry, such as drug crimes.

Why would anyone want to play music that loud?

A several thousand-dollar system sounds good, said Bill Sturgeon, manager at a Phoenix Audio Express.

"It sounds unlike anything else. It's really for someone who wants to get everything out of their music," Sturgeon said.

There are even sound-offs, contests where people try to create the highest sound pressure level in their cars.

Booming sound systems are mostly the attention, said Devin Squire, manager of Sun Valley Auto in Phoenix.

"They (drivers) like that boom boom feel that draws attention to their vehicles," Squire said.

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8014.

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