Citizen complaint of the day: South Boston tells the South End to shut up about planes

Somebody in the South End has been filing 311 complaints about airplanes. Somebody in South Boston who faithfully scans 311 complaints files a complaint about the airplane complaints:

By the way you can't stop planes flying over Boston anyway so get a life people and move on.

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One person?

BOS311 uses GPS to approximate address unless one manually overrides it. These comments cluster around a few addresses on Chandler Street and Lawrence Street, a smaller side street running behind Chandler.

It’s part of this person’s morning routine: wake up, log complaint, start day angry.

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Still a reasonable citizen request

"Please represent my interests and deal with the FAA and Massport on my behalf," seems an entirely reasonable request for a citizen of Boston to make of his or her elected city government.

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Except it’s the wrong level of government

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Look at the 311s Adam has linked to. Either they have been left open or the City noted how to properly complain about the aircraft noise. Complaining directly to the source is much better than griping to a level of government that has little say in the matter. Would you write your city councilor about changes in net neutrality rules?

That said, the complaint about the complaints is much worse. Who seriously has that much time to be trolling the 311 site griping about other citizens’ gripes?

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Planes, net neutrality

I think that city government representing a body of citizens has much more influence over a state/federal agency than individual complainers. If the 311 staff chooses to ignore the complaints maybe try direct contact with a city councillor to see if they can organize around the issue?

As for net neutrality, elected officials in other cities have taken the lead in fighting against the rule changes and in establishing viable public networks, successful examples being in Chattanooga and Santa Monica. Boston's public wifi is a joke (does it even still exist?), maybe our mayor and/or city council will assume some leadership in response to the rule changes, though that will require the fortitude to stand up to the telecomm industry and their protectors, including the Koch brothers.

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Yes, it’s worse

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Because it is a complaint about complaints. There’s a level of pettiness that is worse than griping about something I might not agree with.

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It's not really the wrong level of government

Complaining directly to the source is much better than griping to a level of government that has little say in the matter.

Who do you think is more likely to get his phone calls returned by someone at Massport, me or a city councilor who calls and says, "I represent 14,000 people; they've been calling me daily about the issue"?

Would you write your city councilor about changes in net neutrality rules?

No, I wouldn't, because "citizens of Boston" is not a class that is differentially affected by net neutrality rules.

On the other hand, who better than my city councilor, the person elected to represent my neighborhood, to sit at the table with Massport and representatives of every other affected constituency (other neighborhoods, other towns, the airlines, the FAA, etc.) when Massport decides how it's going to allocate flight schedules among the available runways?

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You have a point

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But your point seems to be that the citizens should contact their city councilor or the mayor’s office. Telling some anonymous bureaucrat at City Hall whose job it is to solve actual actionable problems like graffiti or unshoveled sidewalks about something that a different level of government is responsible for is, in my mind, griping to the wrong level of government.

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Data, data, data

The point isn't that you're "telling an anonymous bureaucrat at City Hall," the point is that you're getting your complaint logged into a system that is designed to track such things.
If the city is using the system as it is supposed to be used, the city councilor could ask it, "How many airport noise complaints are we getting from my district?" and actually have something to go on.

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That would be nice. But I

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That would be nice. But I think you're giving 311 far too much credit if you think anyone does a statistical analysis of complaints to decide what problems to tackle next.

Of course, since 311 complaints are not just public but freely searchable on the Internet, any data geek is welcome to do their own analysis and publish it online.

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No

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Since the point of 311 is not that, the data is lost. E-mail your city councilor and they will have an idea of the sentiment of the community. E-mail Massport and they have an idea of the level of complaints and from where they originate. It’s just the way it is. The citizens in this case put their complaints one step away from where they should be.

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Still not the right place

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E-mail your city councilors directly then. E-mail your other reps, too. 311 won't get you anything.

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311 is useless for pretty

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311 is useless for pretty much any type of complaint. It's unfortunate that city departments pass the buck to 311, who then doesn't bother to make sure things get fixed.

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Accept or adapt to noise

I've lived in the South End close to that flight path for thirteen years. I agree it's loud; but, I also chose to live here and accept that, because I live in a city, I have to put up with noises or adapt. I bought a fan for the bedroom to drown out the jet noises. White noise works great!

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Adapt to someone else's profit?

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The same argument was applied to air pollution. Don't like air pollution around industries or in cities? Move to the suburbs or country. Don't like trash on the street? Go where there are less people.Don't like all the compromises made for people to live together? Move to an island. Don't like the fact that no one has greater rights to either enjoyment of life? Don't like that there are people who want to live in cities but are unwilling to be the sacrificial lambs for airlines to make their profits? Okay, a person doesn't have to like that either.

When adaptation means sacrificing the satisfaction of a fundamental need so that another person or entity can make a profit then adaptation equates to accepting status as a servant, 2nd class, of no importance and an offering on an altar of profit. The entities are airline executives and their pay, share holder value and the ability to accumulate more cash to decrease the competition via more mergers.

While flight is an important part of the economy and society it should not be put ahead of the well being of communities and society as a whole. Polluting the Charles to the point where it was unhealthy to swim in was okay for the entities that polluted it. But the Charles, like communities that are polluted with noise from jets, are not the property of a few, but are part of not just the common good, but impact upon the health - negative or positive - of those affected.

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I grew up on a flight path

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I grew up on a flight path where it was overhead many mornings starting around 530am , with a take off about every 30 seconds, and the jumbos taking off early evening and rattling stuff on the porch. Sometimes I would watch them out the window, and play a game to guess which model, airline, would come up next. The planes reminded me there was a big world out there. And, I do still live in a path. The sound and sight of planes taking off makes me feel at home. Everybody experiences things differently.

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Ever see one get hit by lightning?

Now that a flight path moved in over me, I had the singular experience of seeing a plane turn into a conductor. I was watching the storm from my patio window and a plane flew right through the storm, getting hit and lighting up! Quite the spectacle.

(Note that it isn't uncommon and few if any people are usually hurt by this - if they even notice it - and the planes have been specifically engineered to take it)

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Lived in the South End, and in City Point.

The South End seems to get a few more noisy overhead flights on weekends, but it's not exactly a burden. Over by Castle Island, it's scores of low, roaring takeoffs and landings every day at 6am and 6pm: no contest. Deal with it, or GTFO.

I lived between Coolidge Corner and Washington Square for years, where the clickety-clack of westbound Green Line trains getting stacked up for the morning commute was a wee-hours constant. To my surprise, I found I missed that song once I moved to the Back Bay.

You bought a pricey condo near South Street Diner? Guess what: it's a 24-hour joint that's been there since the 1940s, one of the last all-night places to get a meal in the city: get used to it. Halfway houses on your South End street? They've been doing a great service to the community for decades. Fuck you if that doesn't fit your idea of what your block should be now that you just moved here. Or maybe situate yourself in the soul-crushing, pedestrian-hostile Seaport, where you can dine at enervating, shitty national chain outlets when you're not getting Amazon Fresh deliveries for lack of a supermarket.

City living: it's not for everyone. Do your homework before you buy. Maybe the leafy, always-quiet, purely rich-white-people exurbs are more your thing.

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Suburbs.

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Not just for white people anymore.

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I used to live

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on the B line, between the Griggs and Allston Street stops. Right where the tracks bend around a curve, and it makes that awful squealing noise.

It got to the point where, if it was snowing and the sound was muffled, or if service was suspended, I'd wake up at 5:05 or so in a panic. The absence of the squeals of the first inbound train would wake me up.

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Oh you big sexy bully!

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Your GTFO abbreviation is such a turn on.

What's with the hostile response? Why does anyone desiring reasonable peace and quiet in their home and community make you so angry? The South End, Southie, East Boston, JP, etc. were residential areas before jets. Based on that reasoning jets and their noise are violating the what everyone in those neighborhoods have a right to: peace and quiet.

But there is a premise that is fundamental. In the US at least each person has a inherent right to life; not just surviving either. But life that is enjoyable, that helps a person grow, create, contribute to the larger world. To live requires meeting certain needs. Food, shelter, safety. Pollution - whether in the air, trash piling up, dog feces piling up or unreasonable noise prevent satisfying those needs. They violate the right to life.

Now if you are willing to speak in terms of compromise, instead of sounding like Donald Trump with a my way or the highway tone, then there is a conversation. But telling people to GTFO? You sexy man (or woman). That does not bespeak well of your attitude as a neighbor.

But then some folks don't want neighbors. They just want to be like Burgess Meredith on Twilight Zone. Just wait until you get your wish and then discover that what you need to enjoy living in your block is taken away.

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I thought my point was a pretty simple one: don't move to

the city thinking you can remake it to be just like your former address in Wellesley or Weston or whatever tony address you decided to decamp from once your kids got grown. I've seen an a lot of that selfish behavior in the South End over the past 20 years or so. If you're a smart buyer, you decide beforehand whether you want to take the good with the bad with city living, not simply try to reinvent it after you've moved here for your benefit at the expense of everyone else: moving flight patterns, closing all-night restaurants, kicking out the halfway houses.

I'm curious as to what sort of relief you think can be applied to the pollution that is airplane noise -- which, sorry, is very different within a couple of miles of Logan vs. over the remoter suburbs. How does the South End deserve more quiet than, say, Eastie or Winthrop?

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You city folk crack me up

I thought my point was a pretty simple one: don't move to the city thinking you can remake it to be just like your former address in Wellesley or Weston or whatever tony address you decided to decamp from once your kids got grown.

Wow, with that kind of attitude, you could live in Wellesley or Weston or whatever tony address you wish.

I'm willing to bet that a large percent of the noise whiners are longtime city folks.

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Better make that a low-stakes bet.

You appear to be entirely unfamiliar with the incidents I'm talking about, all of which made uHub stories.

In all of my examples, it was well-heeled, recent exurban transplants who bitched about something that had been a part of the neighborhood long before they moved there (the all-night diner, the halfway houses, the flight paths) and suddenly wanted it different for their own selfish reasons. I was an officer of my South End neighborhood association for years: it was always newcomers who complained about airplane noise.

I'm just suggesting that these unduly self-entitled complainers maybe should have done a little research before they plunked down a million bucks on a condo that's located under a weekend-morning flight path. Trying to get the FAA to bend to your whims after the fact, moving the planes so someone else has to deal with the noise? Good luck with that.

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It's a familiar story

It does have a familiar ring to it: Person moves to an area and immediately wants to change it.

The are lots of stories about people buying a farmhouse in VT, then complain because the dairy farm next door starts its day at 4:00 AM

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Two out of three

You have a point with the diner and the halfway houses but the flight paths used to vary more in lateral range when it was based on radar, but now with the GPS based system if you're under them it's possibly going to go on for hours on end up to a couple of times a minute with pinpoint accuracy over your head.

Most of the complaints I've seen are fairly reasonable, people looking for them to program it so that there is some horizontal variation in the flight paths to make it less relentless over any particular address. I'm pretty damned close to one landing path and it doesn't bother me too much but I also see the benefit of having that kind of variation.

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Interesting. My own anecdotal experience in the

South End doesn't reflect that change; weekend mornings are as noisy as (but no noisier than) they've ever been.

I did notice more weekend overflights while Logan was rebuilding one of its runways last year, but that tapered off after the work was completed over the summer.

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I really, really hate to

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I really, really hate to burst your suburb-hating bubble, but the planes fly over our areas, too.

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I say

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The more ways people complain about the noise, the better. I moved out of the city in 2014 to an area that was, up until late 2016, NOT affected by airplane noise, but the past year of my life has been absolute hell waking up to the noise and trying to fall asleep to it most days of the week (and, in some cases, back to back mornings and nights for weeks on end). It's not a matter of saying "you chose to live here, so deal with it." Was I supposed to magically predict that this would become my life?

If the noise doesn't bother you, congratulations. Do you want some kind of award for that?

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