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Keep It Down! (Or at Least Keep It Civil)

Summer nights bring open windows, summer parties, and sometimes uncomfortable peaks into our neighbors audible lives.

As the days and nights heat up, we cool our homes by opening doors and windows.

Unlike in the San Fernando Valley, residents of Venice don't have our music and conversations masked by air conditioning behind closed windows in the summer.

It always amazes me about what we can hear our neighbors doing, not just music and television, but fights and more. One night, after one of my neighbors had had a particularly dramatic time in bed, the rest of the building erupted in applause. (We never heard that level of expression from her again).

There’s a push and pull with apartment neighbors. The secret is to relate to people from their perspective because what you want matters only to you, not them. To get them to acquiesce you have to put them first, appealing to their sense of fair play or reciprocity.

If you’ve been woken by music pouring through an open window into yours you’ll most likely be in a foul mood, but don’t let it take you over. First, calm yourself. Isolate the probable source of the noise and knock with a smile on your face. Say that you’re sorry for dropping by so late. Give your neighbor the courtesy you haven’t been extended yourself. 

Show that you’re sympathetic as follows, “I really don’t like to disturb you, I like to unwind with music myself. Would you possibly turn down the volume of your music so I can get back to sleep? I have an early call tomorrow. I really appreciate it. By the way, I live across from you so if you ever find me too loud, just let me know and I’ll return the favor.”

Which approach do you think will get better results, that or slamming on the door with a baseball bat, cursing at your neighbor as you tell him to shut up?

Most of us in Venice are pretty good about respecting our neighbor’s rights, but don’t forget that under law you’re entitled to quiet enjoyment of premises. If after a polite request the disturbance continues, you are within your rights to call the non-emergency dispatch number and ask have a cruiser drop by to enforce the peace and quiet. For reference here’s the City of Los Angeles noise ordinance.

Note any police calls or second confrontations with the date and time so that if you do have to take further action with your building manager, landlord or though court, your conversation is documented.  If the police are called back for a second visit, ask dispatch to have the officers meet you too so you can add their business cards to your records.

Always be friendly first. People sometimes aren't aware of how much noise they are making, or what their neighbors can hear, so be respectful and understanding.

Neighbors will watch each others’ backs if they like each other. That’s why we call the area in which we live a neighborhood.

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