Prague to measure night noise in center

The effort comes as the Prague 1 district again calls for a bar closing time decree

Prague City Hall plans to start measuring night noise in the city center. This comes as the Prague 1 district is pushing for a maximum closing time in part of Old Town.

The city will test noise meters starting at the end of this month and if the results are sufficient, more meters will be put in place, daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) reported.

Three meters will be installed at the camera column in the plaza where Dlouhá, V Kolkovně, Kozí a Masná streets meet. The test project including software cost almost Kč 95,000.

Czech hygienists recommend an upper limit of 64 decibels for outdoor spaces.

If the noise level is below 60 decibels, the display on the meters will be green, when is is higher the sensor lights up in red, Prague 1 City Councilor Ivan Solil said.

In loud pubs, noise levels are often around 70 decibels. Loud conversation can reach 60 decibels.

“To avoid constant flashing of the measured values, we are considering setting the time intervals of the measured level display or grading the displayed noise levels in five decibel steps,” Solil told MfD.

The already existing cameras next to the meters will allow police to see if they need to intervene in the situation.

The Municipal Police, however, say they know nothing of the plan. “We contacted Prague 1 and asked for an explanation. They told us it was a trial run, and does not concern us yet. Representatives of the city district will discuss further use of the meters after an evaluation of the trial operation,” police spokeswoman Irena Seifertová said.

She added that noise complaints are most common in summer when people have windows open. Violations of noise rules can result in a fine up to Kč 10,000.

But getting information from meters and cameras won’t be effective in battling noise if the city lacks the means for enforcement.

Solil also claims there aren’t enough police to deal with night noise and alcohol drinking in public. Currently, there are 240 police officers involved in monitoring the situation but 100 more are needed according to the police’s own estimates.

The Town Hall of Prague 1 is growing impatient with the city’s efforts to curb noise. Signs in the center have proved ineffective, and an anti-conflict team that was used last summer was not renewed for this year.

As a result, the Prague 1 district is again pushing for a set closing time for bars and clubs due to noise. City Hall says that proposal has already been dealt with, though, and a it received a negative response.

The Town Hall of Prague 1 this week informed Prague Mayor Adrian Krnáčová (ANO) that district councilors have again started to deal with a draft decree first proposed in 2014. The decree would restrict the opening hours of pubs, bars and clubs in an effort to restrict night noise.

The Prague 1 Town Hall sent a letter inviting Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová to consult the with them about the decree.

The proposed decree covers several streets where bars and clubs would have a single maximum closing time. They would have to close at 2 am before work days and an hour later before weekend days or holidays. The streets involved are Dlouhá, Dušní, Jakubská, Kozí, Malá Štupartská, Masná, Michalská, Rybná and Kolkovňa, and over 100 businesses would be affected.

“I'm sorry we have to write a reminder letter to the city. Nothing has happened for four years and the night situation in the streets of Prague 1 is getting worse. Residents are moving out of the center. People, including young children, can’t sleep in their homes [which causes] health problems,” Prague 1 City Councilor Solil said, according to daily Pražský deník.

The letter said that based on Solil’s experience and on interviews, a single closing time in the most offending locations is the only option to rescue the city center from further deterioration and a deepening negative image.

Prague City Hall spokesman Vít Hofman said the City Council dealt with the decree on Jan. 10, 2017.

The City Council at that time opposed the idea of a decree to limit the operating hours of catering establishments. The matter was also dealt with by the commission for legislation, Hofman said.

Hofman says City Hall is also preparing a new decree on banning alcohol in public areas, but he did not give specifics.

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