I am a downtown Portland resident living near the Cumberland Avenue and Preble Street intersection. I’ve been a city dweller for many years, both in Portland and elsewhere. I am used to city noises, yelling, sirens, traffic, etc.

As I write this letter, I’m currently listening to the sound of a jackhammer mounted on an end-loader (the big yellow scoopy thing on tank wheels), milling away at the current Cumberland Avenue utility project at 11 p.m. This will continue well into the a.m. Earplugs rated up to 30 decibels are no match for this industrial noise. This has also been going on for a few weeks now.

I get it – some things can only be done at night in order for traffic to move during the day and work to progress. This is still my backyard, however, and I pay a premium to live downtown. If this kind of noise were something I craved, I would have found a cozy studio inside a foundry or perhaps a bungalow where herds of African elephants regularly stampeded nearby.

Call me crazy, but I’m starting to get the sense that if any noise ordinance exists, it is somehow being circumvented for these projects. So rather than channeling my inner Joe Pesci circa “Goodfellas,” writing useless missives to the city or getting the local high school band to serenade a City Council member’s residence at 3 a.m. (oh, the humanity if their children were awoken by such noise), I’m leaving this to you guys. I think there’s a story here. Downtown residents deserve quiet, too.

Uselessly Earplugged in Portland,

Ian Baird


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