How loud is transportation noise in West Hollywood?
In an earlier report, we looked at noise from businesses, construction, gardeners, and neighbors. But how much noise is coming from the vehicles on West Hollywood streets and aircraft overhead?
National Transportation Noise Map
The US Department of Transportation recently published a National Transportation Noise Map. It shows the estimated level of noise from roads and aviation for every place in the country.
The map below focuses on the part of the region from Westside to Downtown Los Angeles. You can click on any of the maps in this report to see a larger version.
The noise is loudest near the freeways and airports. Those areas are colored purple, violet, and red. West Hollywood has less transportation noise. The colors are mostly red, mustard, and yellow.
The amount of noise is expressed in decibels. The scale isn’t linear: an increase of 10 decibels sounds twice as loud. For comparison, the hum of a refrigerator might register 40 decibels, a quiet office 50, a conversation 60, a vacuum cleaner 70, a garbage disposal 80, a lawnmower 90, and a jackhammer 100. The government’s analysis assumes that noise below 35 decibels doesn’t significantly contribute to the overall noise level.
Also keep in mind:
- It’s a 24-hour average, including louder and quieter times of day and night
- It’s based on a computer model, not actual sound measurements, so the estimate could be off for any given spot
- Noise from vehicles on smaller streets — such as the city’s residential streets — is excluded
- Helicopters are excluded
Road noise in West Hollywood
The map below shows the noise from vehicles on West Hollywood’s more heavily used streets. The estimates take into account traffic volumes, speeds, and vehicle types.
West Hollywood avoids freeway-level noise, though the heavy traffic on city streets is still loud. That corresponds to red, orange, and yellow coloring, with some violet. The loudest points in the city average 65 to 70 decibels of vehicle noise over a 24-hour period.
Aircraft noise in West Hollywood
Many parts of the region have more aircraft noise, but aviation still contributes to the noise level in West Hollywood. The map below suggests that all of West Hollywood’s Eastside and parts of Center City, Tri-West, and West Hollywood West are affected by the Santa Monica airport. The 24-hour average is 35 to 40 decibels, similar to a quiet library or a humming refrigerator.
We don’t mean to suggest that planes flying over these neighborhoods sound like quiet libraries. The 24-hour average is pulled down by the aircraft-free hours. It also excludes helicopter noise.
Road and aircraft noise combined
This map combines street and aircraft noise. Most of the city is colored in. Only a few spots get less than 35 decibels of transportation noise on average over 24 hours, excluding helicopters.
We don’t have noise data for helicopters flying over West Hollywood. Instead, we have some information about helicopter noise complaints. There is an official website that the public can use to complain about noise from specific helicopter flights. It’s part of a Congressionally-mandated noise-reduction effort that has focused so far on voluntary measures.
We have a tally of complaints by zip code for April 2017. Eighty percent of the complaints came from 15 zip codes. The top zip codes were near the Hollywood sign, Koreatown, and Sherman Oaks.
West Hollywood is not in the top 15. That may indicate that helicopter noise is not as bad in West Hollywood, or that more residents of those other communities know about the complaint website.