04/26/2011 23:11

New rules extend hours when construction is banned, bar noisy gardening equipment and soon, blaring car alarms.

A series of amendments to the 1992 Abatement of Nuisances Law go into effect on Wednesday, which will increase the hours in which construction is banned and will also introduce additional regulations – such as bans on blaring car alarms and using leaf-blowers in residential areas, the Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Tuesday.

“We believe that the new regulations will help us make it easier for those who suffer on account of unacceptable noise,” said Hilik Rosenblum, chairman of Malraz: Council for the Prevention of Noise and Air Pollution in Israel, in a statement.

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Malraz, an NGO founded in 1961 that works on environmental quality issues, applauded the changes, which the organization helped support. For the past two years, Malraz has operated a hotline for individuals disturbed by their neighbors’ noise and has solved 98 percent of the situations through negotiations, rather than court cases, according to the organization’s spokesman, Kobby Barda.

Among the amendments will be an extension of the time in which renovations cannot take place. Previously, the law only stipulated that no such work could be performed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays; now the law specifically requires work to also stop between 5 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Sunday, with the same rules applying for other days of rest in addition to Shabbat.

For building construction, digging and demolition, the previous rules prohibited work between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays, as well as between 5 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Sundays (with the same rules applying to holidays), but now an extra hour has been added to the weekday restrictions – allowing residents to sleep without the sounds of bulldozers and tractors until 7 a.m.

A third regulation monitors the use of firecrackers, stipulating that they can only be launched at locations 1,000 meters away from residential areas, and between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., aside from during specific holidays – such as Yom Ha’atzma’ut or Purim, according to Barda.

Perhaps most significant, Barda believes, are the new prohibitions against using noisy gardening equipment between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and during “siesta” time – between 2 and 4 p.m. – on weekdays, as well as between 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Sunday, with the same rules applying to other rest days. Leaf-blowers will be completely banned in residential areas.

“This year we will deal with many local authorities that up until now have not made the necessary arrangements for the institution of the regulation that prevents using noisy leaf-blowers for gardening and street-cleaning,” Rosenblum said in the statement. “It is strictly forbidden to operate these kind of blowers and many citizens are waiting for the institution of this regulation.”

Three months after all of these new rules kick in, on July 27, purchasing “vocal” car alarm systems becomes illegal – but drivers will be permitted to use already-installed systems for the next six years.

“This can drive you nuts,” said Barda, who favors using GPS trackers as security devices over the loud, blaring alarms that are often activated simply by children throwing balls. “Sometimes it’ll be hours before the owner can come and turn it off.”

While individual neighbors could have technically taken each other to court in the past for noise violations and now have even more opportunity to do so under the new regulations, Barda predicts that the most prominent future legal challenges will lie in “the clashing of municipalities with this law” – particularly with regards to the leaf-blowing section.

“A few municipalities said that they’re going to obey the law, but some said they wouldn’t,” Barda said, comparing this obstinacy to the attitudes many towns displayed toward enacting smoking bans in the past.

“So now people will start suing the municipalities, and we’ll get to see what happens.”