There’s a war in Santa Monica over noise that’s taking place in the popular and scenic Ocean View Park adjacent to where I live. Somehow I was reminded of the 1990 coming of age movie entitled “Pump Up the Volume” staring Christian Slater and written and directed by Allan Moyle. The story is about a teenager who runs his own pirate radio station for other teenagers and causes an uproar.
Many years ago I crossed paths with Moyle who read two of my screenplays and invited me for drinks at Shutters to talk about them. Moyle was born and raised in Quebec but when I met him he lived in Venice and was a tad eccentric. For example, instead of dogs for pets he had chickens in his backyard, something you don’t see in a typical residential neighborhood. (Although I suppose part of Venice’s charm is that it’s anything but “typical.”)
In 1995 Moyle directed a similar movie, “Empire Records” but it was a flop at the box office. It later developed a cult following, however, as it launched the careers of three actresses: Liv Tyler who appeared in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy; Debi Mazar who was in “Goodfellas”: and Renée Zellweger who has won two Oscars including Best Actress for her remarkable portrayal of Hollywood icon Judy Garland in the movie “Judy.”
Speaking of Zellweger, while her house in Malibu was being built she lived at the Shores. In fact her apartment was in the south tower which abuts the Ocean View Park, bringing us back to the above referenced noise “war,” which started after the Covid pandemic began.
Various bands, including jazz and easy listening rock, began playing in the park from the circle at the top of the hill and were well received.
Progressively, however, the music got louder, the hours increased and DJ types began bringing as many as 10 speakers and began blasting recorded music.
On Saturdays and Sundays, the decibels are off the charts and this can go on for 12 hours a day. That may be fun for passersby but is driving residents bonkers. Not only do they hear the music, they feel it as the walls rattle.
Because I live in the Shores’ north tower I’m not affected by the noise but I’ve been on the phone with friends in the south tower and I can hear the cacophony through the speaker. While the high decibel count from the music would be illegal in a residential area, it’s not illegal in public parks.
You see public parks are exempted from the city’s noise laws. The problem is Ocean View Park is right next to the Shores and the Sea Colonies. One resident noted that the music outside is louder than his TV inside. Another says the only escape from the deafening clamor is in the shower as the thickly tiled walls and water drown out the racket. A bit of dark humor, she jokingly commented, “If only I could put a chair in the shower and the WI-fi reached there.”
Desperate, residents in the south tower have reached out to city councilman Phil Brock who has graciously agreed to meet them this Sunday for a “tour” of the music bedlam. The residents are hoping for some type of compromise in the allowable decibel count and the number of hours one person or group can blast their music.
I’m empathetic with the plight of the residents because seven years ago the north tower was blasted for six straight hours of electric guitars and drums from the Vegan Oktoberfest, which was a great idea but turned out to be a great fiasco. The huge mistake was where the music was directed. Instead of toward the beach which was practically empty and where the music would be absorbed by the sound of the waves, they had the bands play directly into the west side of the north tower with the percussive effect resulting in the windows and sliding glass doors shaking.
I phoned Councilman Kevin McKeown and got his voice mail. Even with the windows shut the noise inside my apartment was so deafening that McKeown could barely hear the message. I wrote a column about it but got royally trolled by vegans with comments like, “Old man, why didn’t you simply take out your hearing aids?” #Ouch.
The irony was I thought a vegan Oktoberfest was a great idea but it definitely had gone wrong. Just like music in the park is a great idea just not when it’s a window rattling outdoor disco for 12 straight hours. I hope a compromise can be reached where they pump down the volume. In the meantime, forgive me but I can’t help but wonder if Alan Moyle still has pet chickens in his backyard.