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EDITORIAL: Tap brakes on noisy downtown drivers

| April 10, 2024 1:00 AM

Racist morons aren’t the only ones who rev their engines in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

Attention-seeking drivers of all kinds of stopped vehicles, from Harleys to hot rods, do it too.

“That's the irritant, that's the frustration that people experienced," Mayor Jim Hammond noted last month when the City Council approved changes to municipal codes that aim to reduce vehicle noise and excessive exhaust.

So how's it going?

Police Chief Lee White told The Press that six tickets had been issued in the month since the ordinance was adopted March 6. Because most warnings are verbal, he said, there's no exact record of how many of those have been issued and uttered, but the police chief knows warnings are happening.

Expect enforcement to ratchet up.

"Our downtown team will be out in force in June, but we hope to do extra emphasis patrols prior to that time," White said.

Given the higher priorities police face daily, that approach makes sense. Until noise is directly linked to assault in the form of heart attacks or ruptured eardrums, officers should be forgiven if they’re not parked on every corner just waiting for the next roar or smoke cloud.

And yet, enforcement is necessary.

Almost everyone reading this newspaper has spent time on sunny afternoons in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Whether shopping or enjoying a beverage or meal near the street, being assailed by unleashed decibels is almost guaranteed to ruin the experience. Gasping for fresh air between bites isn’t aesthetically appetizing, either.

It’s true that some of the thunderclaps echoing through downtown canyons would be much more muted elsewhere out in the open. Nobody is trying to ruin anyone else’s fun by complaining about the noise, but here’s the thing: When one person’s fun legally encroaches on another’s, something’s gotta give.

In this case, a little courtesy from drivers of noisy or smoky vehicles will go a long way by simply avoiding downtown or at least ensuring they’re as quiet as possible. 

And for those who refuse? The sound of citations can go a long way, too.

• • •

Don't bet against Cliff

A lot of people correctly predicted that South Carolina would win the women's NCAA national basketball championship.

Some have guessed the outcome of political races and stock market swings.

A few foresaw how many hot dogs could be consumed in a gut-stretching 10-minute gagfest last summer.

But when it comes to long-range weather prognosticating? Climatologist Cliff Harris is pretty much peerless. 

Last fall, Cliff predicted Coeur d'Alene would see 51.4 inches of white stuff over the winter. The final tally was 51.1 — rounded off, right on the nose.

It's fair to wonder if Cliff's crystal ball is a magical snow globe.