In the Spring of 1990, a legislator for the Arizona House of Representatives introduced a bill (HB-2141) that would make it a crime if a person's sound system could be heard from a distance of greater than 50 feet. This article is a collection of information that was used to ultimately defeat this bill.
Let me just say that I was quite naive when we first began fighting this bill. I had the notion that lawmakers always tried to do what was right. In reality, money is all that really mattered. We also discovered that the primary problem in Pheonix was cruising, not noise. We eventually solved this problem by establishing a "Jam Zone" in conjunction with the City of Phoenix. This area was specifically set-aside for cruisers to park and "jam" their systems on Friday and Saturday nights.
Defeating "Boom-Car" legislation is tough. It takes time, energy, and money. Hopefully, something in this collection of information will aid you in your endeavor.
It is clear from our test results (see the distance perception test results at the end of this article) that the distance at which a specific sound is perceivable is based on 3 primary elements; output level of the sound source, the ambient noise of the listening environment, and the acuity of the listener's hearing.
The output level of the sound source is simply the amount of sound being produced by the sound system. Output level is measured in decibels (dB) and is expressed in terms of Sound Pressure Level (SPL). Doubling the acoustic output power from the sound system results in a 3 dB increase in SPL. A 10 dB increase in SPL will seem twice as loud to the human ear.
Ambient noise is defined as the residual noise in a particular listening environment. The amount of ambient noise also determines the "noise floor"; a point at which sounds are no longer distinctly discernible when they drop below the level of the ambient noise.
Discrepancies in perception distance can be attributed to several factors.
The ear has non-linear response characteristics.
The ear's frequency response varies with SPL.
Hearing deteriorates with age/health.
The ear is relatively insensitive to changes in amplitude.
Temporary threshold shift affects hearing acuity.
In summary, the ear makes for a very poor test instrument. In addition to the ear's deficiencies, environmental conditions such as ambient noise, wind, temperature, and humidity also make it near impossible to produce consistent perception distance results.
The only sure-fire method for obtaining consistent, accurate results, is to make the test Objective rather than Subjective. This can be accomplished with the aid of an SPL meter. By using this type of test instrument, you can be sure that you are comparing "Apples vs. Apples" when system output is discussed.
Model: Bruel & Kjaer Type 2230 Description: Precision Integrating Sound Level Meter Serial Number: 1284948 Calibration Date: 07/10/89
Detector: RMS Time Weighting: Slow Sound Incidence: Random External Filter: Out Frequency Weighting: Linear Display: Leq
Make: Ford Model: Mustang Convertible Year: 1990 Sound System: Stock Openings: Doors, windows, and roof closed except driver's window.
Level Adjustment - The output level of the stock system was adjusted to a normal listening level. This level was then established as our reference and measured at 98 dB at the driver's seat.
Distance Measurement - At each test location, the system's output level was set to the reference 98 dB. The distance at which the system could be heard was then measured from the vehicle.
Location: Location where measurement was taken. Test Date: Date of test. Test Time: Time of test. Description: Description of test location. Ambient SPL: The ambient SPL of the test location with the sound system turned off. Perception Distance: The maximum distance at which the sound system could be heard.
Quiet public park
Intersection Dobson & Baseline
The Conception of CASE
The following is a chronology of the events that have taken place since Rep. Sue Laybe of Phoenix allegedly "authored" HB-2141 or, as it was to become known throughout the nation, "The Boom-Car Bill", because of all the national press and TV coverage she received. In fact, she never really researched anything, she merely copied, almost verbatim, a law that had recently passed somewhere in southern California.
HB-2141 was assigned to the transportation committee of the House of Representatives and they voted to pass it. It was then to go to an Environmental Committee.
On the day of its introduction to the Environmental Committee, concerned youngsters were asked to picket in front of the State Capitol, and were coached as to what not to say to the press. It was from this committee meeting that the bill emerged with the amendment that enforcement was to take place from 50 feet between the hours of 11 PM and 6 AM. (It was later re-amended to 75 feet and between the hours of 8 PM and 8 AM.
After that meeting, a few manufacturers and retailers decided to meet and develop a war plan to attempt to hamper the advancement of the bill, even though we were somewhat gratified with the 75 foot amendment. We met the following Monday evening at Rockford's facilities in Tempe. At that meeting, we collectively voted to attempt to "kill" the bill as opposed to trying for more amendments. We voted to enlist the services of a lobbyist, a few of which were to be interviewed by some of our members. A "war kitty" in the amount of $10,000.00 was formed with four $2500.00 contributions from each of the manufacturers present; Rockford Corporation, MTX, Orion, and PPI. A lobbyist by the name of Mickey Dingott was to ultimately get the nod.
We then solicited the help of retailers, manufacturer's rep's , as well as retail customers to have petitions signed as well as organize a phone campaign to call our respective legislators and voice our opinions. One local retailer (Audio Express) donated 4 quarter page ads with a mission statement for CASE, and another (Audio Images) included information about the mission of CASE in their regular advertising.
Through arrangements made by the lobbyist, a meeting of CASE representatives and Senate and House leadership personnel was held. Ironically, the information requested was almost solely limited to the financial impact of passing such a law. While the issue we were attempting to deal with was a noise problem, all the legislators were interested in was how much they stood to lose in payroll and sales taxes. The fact that we happened to have a few manufacturers in the area did not hurt our cause any, in that they collectively represent the payment of many thousands of payroll tax dollars into the state coffers every week. We then solicited manufacturers for any information they would be willing to divulge regarding any and all monies spent in Arizona by them for hotels, meals, meetings, car rentals, etc. Also, the local manufacturers and retailers were polled as to numbers of employees, and size of payrolls. The resulting information was then forwarded to the lobbyist to put into the hands of the legislators.
The first positive sign of CASE's efforts was the slowing of the momentum of the bill. Unfortunately, it still was ultimately passed in a full House vote, and was to be sent to a Senate committee. Rep. Laybe was later to get her bill attached to a strike-all bill and it was re-numbered HB-1061, read to a Senate sub-committee, and then sent back to the House for approval. It was approved by a full House vote and is currently awaiting re-reading to either another Senate sub-committee (hopefully), or to the full Senate (where it will almost certainly pass.) On the bright side, we have, as of this writing, been successful in preventing the movement of the bill back to the Senate.
We have attempted to use this lull in time to craft some additional amendments that would help to define the enforcement parameters and keep the enforcement less subjective. The lobbyist now has our latest amendment suggestions and is merely awaiting any further movement of the bill. We have also obtained some verbal commitments from a few Senators for sponsorship of our proposed amendments, should it find its way to a Senate sub-committee.
We, as an organization, have always taken the posture that this entire issue was a City of Phoenix problem. More precisely, a cruising problem that affects a few miles of Central Avenue, not the entirety of the State of Arizona. Ms. Laybe, realizing she had met with a formidable force, tried to enlist the support of the City Council to help in the passage of her bill. Our representatives were also at the City Council meeting and made it well known that we sympathized with the residents of the affected area, and wanted to work with them in an attempt to find a solution to the cruising problem. (It was at this meeting that Ms. Laybe notified us that she was going to use the Strike-All bill tactic to defeat us.) As a result of that meeting, as well as several others, a "Jam Zone" was created in the downtown area.
The City of Phoenix has committed to an expenditure of $56,000.00 to create entertainment and a place to cruise and "hang out," as well as blast stereos with immunity from law enforcement. (With the exception that alcoholic beverages are not to be consumed in the "Jam Zone.") The "Jam Zone" as well as being a potential solution to the problem is presenting a beautiful retail sales opportunity in that the city is providing space for us as retailers and manufacturers to show our wares at no cost. The object is to draw as many kids as possible to the area, and dilute the amount of traffic on Central Avenue. Hopefully, if Phoenix receives enough "press" on what they've attempted to do, other cities in the country will respond to their similar problems, and react in the same way so that we can close the book on all of the "Boom-Car" bills that have taken up so much valuable time and money to challenge.
UPDATE: Since this was written, the Bill came before the Senate and died.
Memo Regarding Jam Zone
Copy of memo from Wayne Harris to Rockford Corporation on July 18, 1990.
As most of you have probably heard, the Coalition of Auto Sound Enthusiasts (CASE) has been successful in its endeavor to kill the proposed "Boom-Car" legislation in Arizona.
Since the root of the problem in Arizona is "cruising," we have been working very closely with the city of Phoenix in order to alleviate the cruising problem there.
A special location, known as "The Jam Zone," has been officially established by the city of Phoenix. This area, which is located at the Grand Prix garages at 6th Avenue and Jefferson, is a place for cruisers to congregate and socialize in a semi-supervised manner. Events such as volleyball, a mini crank-it-up contest, live radio coverage, car shows, and manufacturer's exhibits are just some of the events held every Saturday night from 9 PM to 1 AM. It is the hope of city officials that the Jam Zone will dilute the traffic congestion on Central avenue and thus pacify the residents that are complaining of noise in the Central corridor area.
City and state officials have repeatedly stated that if the situation on Central avenue does not improve, cruising will be banned altogether and new laws, such as those aimed specifically at car audio, will surely be passed.
CASE, CASA, and IASCA all feel that it is in the best interest of the industry for our organizations to freely and openly embrace the city's efforts to make the Jam Zone a success.
Members of CASE (representing each participating manufacturer) have been contributing to the success by showing vehicles like the Terminator in the manufacturer's exhibit area every Saturday night for the last six weeks. Other CASE members judge the mini Crank-it-up contest. CASE also is paying for all of the trophies and plaques for these contests.
At this time, Rockford has made a pledge of up to $2500.00 to CASE. While an itemized financial report is not available at this time (pending the bill from our lobbyist), an educated guess would leave us with about $500.00 to $1000.00 left in the account.
I would suggest that we commit $500.00 of this money to the T-shirt program initiated by CASA (see attachment) and another $500.00 to the city of Phoenix for Jam Zone banners (see attachment.) I think these banners are a great idea since they would have our company LOGO printed on it.
Time is very short, and I need to know whether to commit to the T-shirts and Banners before the 19th of July. Also, we need someone to start organizing and showing Rockford vehicles and product on a regular basis down at the Jam Zone. This is great exposure for our company and gives valuable support to our local dealers as well.