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The Politics of Noise Control in São Paulo

  • LEONARDO CARDOSO

Abstract

In this article, I discuss São Paulo's legal apparatus in respect of environmental noise. I begin by situating my analysis within broader citizenship issues. I then focus on three debates on noise control in the city. The first two debates involve noise ordinances created in the 1990s and enforced by São Paulo's Programa de Silêncio Urbano (Urban Silence Programme, PSIU). The first revolves around the evangelical lawmakers’ attempts to exclude, minimize or hinder the impact of a noise ordinance on religious services. The second debate focuses on an ordinance that required bars without acoustic insulation to close at 1 am – a demand that faced strong opposition from businesses involved in the night-time economy. The third debate describes the recent attempt of a group of acoustic engineers to lobby the city administration for the systematic mapping of traffic noise. I contend that environmental noise is a fruitful point of entry to investigate how the state mediates universal equality and individual freedom, welfare principles and economic gain.

En este artículo discuto el aparato legal de São Paulo relacionado con el ruido medioambiental. Empiezo situando mi análisis al interior de cuestiones más amplias de ciudadanía. Luego me centro en tres debates alrededor del control del ruido en la ciudad. Los dos primeros se refieren a legislaciones de ruido creadas en los años 90 y que fueron aplicadas por el Programa de Silencio Urbano (PSIU) de São Paulo. La primera se desarrolla alrededor de los intentos de legisladores evangélicos por excluir, minimizar u obstruir el impacto de una ley sobre ruido en los oficios religiosos. El segundo debate se enfoca en una regulación que requería que los bares sin aislamiento acústico cerraran a la 1 de la mañana – una demanda que enfrentó una fuerte oposición de parte de comercios funcionando en la vida nocturna. El tercer debate describe el intento reciente de un grupo de ingenieros acústicos de cabildear con la administración de la ciudad para el mapeo sistemático del ruido del tráfico. El artículo señala que el ruido medioambiental es un punto de entrada productivo para investigar cómo el estado media principios de igualdad universal y libertades individuales, bien-estar social y la lógica del mercado.

Neste artigo, discuto o aparato legal da cidade de São Paulo com relação aos ruídos ambientais. Começo situando minha análise dentro de questões mais amplas relacionadas à cidadania. Foco, então, em três debates acerca do controle de ruídos na cidade. Os primeiros dois debates envolvem as regulamentações relacionadas aos ruídos criadas na década de 1990 e aplicadas pelo Programa de Silêncio Urbano (PSIU) de São Paulo. O primeiro trata das tentativas de vereadores evangélicos de excluir, minimizar ou obstruir o impacto das regulamentações sobre ruídos nos cultos religiosos. O segundo debate foca em uma regulamentação que obriga bares sem isolamento acústico a fecharem a uma hora da madrugada, uma demanda que sofreu forte oposição por parte de estabelecimentos envolvidos na vida noturna. O terceiro debate descreve a tentativa recente de um grupo de engenheiros acústicos de influenciar a administração municipal a realizar o mapeamento sistemático dos ruídos causados pelo trânsito. Defendo que os ruídos ambientais constituem um ponto de entrada profícuo para investigar como o Estado media princípios de igualdade universal e liberdades individuais, bem-estar social e a lógica do mercado.

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1 World Health Organization, Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise (Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2011), p. v.

2 G1 São Paulo, ‘Briga entre vizinhos resulta em 3 mortes em condomínio de Alphaville’, G1 São Paulo (23 May 2013), http://g1.globo.com/sao-paulo/noticia/2013/05/briga-entre-vizinhos-resulta-em-3-mortes-em-condominio-de-alphaville.html (accessed 16 Sept. 2016).

3 One exception to this is aircraft noise.

4 Laws 11.501/94 and 12.879/99.

5 The Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997) point to the growing transnational concern with environmental issues in the 1990s.

6 See, for corruption, Weyland, Kurt, ‘The Politics of Corruption in Latin America’, Journal of Democracy, 9: 2 (1998), pp. 108–21; for clientelism, Helmke, Gretchen and Levitsky, Steven (eds.), Informal Institutions & Democracy: Lessons from Latin America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); for environmental degradation, Liverman, Diana M. and Vilas, Silvina, ‘Neoliberalism and the Environment in Latin America’, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 31 (2006), pp. 327–63; for conflicts over land ownership, Mangin, William, ‘Latin American Squatter Settlements: A Problem and a Solution’, Latin American Research Review, 2:3 (1967), pp. 6598 ; Ortega, Roque Roldán, Models for Recognizing Indigenous Land Rights in Latin America (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2004).

7 See Gautier, Ana Maria Ochoa, Aurality: Listening and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Colombia (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Social Transculturation, Epistemologies of Purification and the Aural Public Sphere in Latin America, Social Identities, 12: 6 (2006), pp. 803–25; Bronfman, Alejandra and Wood, Andrew Grant (eds.), Media, Sound, and Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

8 de Carvalho, José Murilo, Cidadania no Brasil: o longo caminho (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2001).

9 DaMatta, Roberto, Carnivals, Rogues, and Heroes: an Interpretation of the Brazilian Dilemma (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991); A casa e a rua: espaço, cidadania, mulher e morte no Brasil (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1995).

10 Holston, James, Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 20.

11 Dagnino, Evelina, Meanings of Citizenship in Latin America (Brighton: Institute of Development, 2005), p. 2.

12 See, for instance, Lefebvre, Henri's The Production of Space (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991); Writings on Cities (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996).

13 See Brenner, Neil, Marcuse, Peter and Mayer, Margit (eds.), Cities for People, Not for Profit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City (New York: Routledge, 2012); Brenner, Neil, Jessop, Bob, Jones, Martin and MacLeod, Gordon (eds.), State/Space: a Reader (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003); Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity: an Enquiry into the origins of cultural change (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1989); Zukin, Sharon, The Cultures of Cities (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995).

14 See also Holston, James, ‘Urban Citizenship and Globalization’, in Scott, Allen J. (ed.), Global City-Regions: Trends, Theory, Policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 325–48.

15 ‘Microcitizenship’ refers to a fractious citizenship, when certain groups have exclusive rights to particularized legitimate uses of urban space.

16 Walker, Ryan C., ‘Searching for Aboriginal/Indigenous Self-Determination: Urban Citizenship in the Winnipeg Low-Cost-Housing Sector, Canada’, Environment and Planning A (2006), pp. 2345–63.

17 Centner, Ryan, ‘Microcitizenships: Fractious Forms of Urban Belonging after Argentine Neoliberalism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36: 2 (2012), p. 339.

18 Avritzer, Leonardo, Urban Reform, Participation and the Right to the City in Brazil (Sussex: Institute of Development Studies, 2007).

19 Article 2 of the Statute of the City, Law 10.257/2001.

20 Holston, Insurgent Citizenship, p. 292.

21 G1 Brasil, ‘Número de evangélicos aumenta 61% em 10 anos, aponta IBGE,’ G1 Brasil (29 June 2012), http://g1.globo.com/brasil/noticia/2012/06/numero-de-evangelicos-aumenta-61-em-10-anos-aponta-ibge.html (accessed 16 Sept.2016).

22 Trevisan, Janine, ‘A frente parlamentar evangélica: força política no estado laico brasileiro’, Numen 16: 1 (2013), p. 36.

23 Corten, André, Pentecostalism in Brazil: Emotion of the Poor and Theological Romanticism (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), p. 57.

24 Feltran, Gabriel, ‘Vinte anos depois: a construção democrática brasileira vista da periferia de São Paulo’, Lua Nova 72 (2007), p. 85.

25 As Murray R. Schafer notices, ‘The study of noise legislation […] provides us with a concrete register of acoustic phobias and nuisances. Changes in legislation give us clues to changing social attitudes and perceptions, and these are important for the accurate treatment of sound symbolism.’ Schafer, Murray R., The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (Rochester, VT: Destiny, 1994), p. 67.

26 Bijsterveld, Karin, Mechanical Sound: Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), pp. 34 .

27 Ising, Hartmut and Kruppa, Barbara, ‘Health Effects Caused by Noise: Evidence in the Literature from the Past 25 Years’, Noise Health 6: 5 (2004), pp. 89 .

28 Kang, Jian, Urban Sound Environment (London: Taylor & Francis, 2007), p. 22.

29 Código Civil Brasileiro (2002), ‘Artigo 1277’.

30 Ibid., ‘Artigo 1279’.

31 Lei dos Crimes Ambientais, Artigo 54.

32 Quoted in William França, ‘Lei Ambiental é sancionada com 10 vetos’, Folha de São Paulo (Brasil) (13 Feb. 1998), p. 6.

33 Law 7.805/72.

34 Campos, Candido Malta and Somekh, Nadia, ‘Regulando a desigualdade: a Lei de Zoneamento em São Paulo’, Seminário de História da Cidade e do Urbanismo, 10: 2 (2008), p. 8.

35 Interview with Regina Macedo, 16 Oct. 2012.

36 Regina Macedo, ‘Poluição sonora: histórico de uma luta de seis anos do vereador Roberto Tripoli’, unpubl. dossier (n.d.).

37 Interview with Helena Sobral, 31 July 2013.

38 Ibid.

39 Roberto Tripoli, ‘Projeto de Lei 707, Justificativa’ (1993), in Archives of São Paulo Municipal Chamber, available at http://www2.camara.sp.gov.br/projetos/1993/00/00/07/R0/000007R0Q.PDF (accessed 16 Sept. 2016).

40 Ibid.

41 Lei no. 11501 de 11 de Abril de 1994 (Projeto de Lei no. 707/93 do Vereador Roberto Tripoli), in Archives of São Paulo Municipal Chamber, available at http://www2.camara.sp.gov.br/projetos/2012/00/00/0H/1B/00000H1B6.pdf (accessed 16 Sept. 2016).

42 The UFM (‘Municipal Fiscal Unit’) is a unit used for local taxes and fines; its value fluctuates according to the average of daily or monthly interest rates negotiated by banks. Taking the conversion rate of March 2016 (US$1 = BR$3.60), 1 UFM = approx. BR$144, or US$40. Values of fines shown in this article use this currency conversion rate.

43 Maluf, a controversial right-leaning politician, was known as a planner of large-scale urban projects. Maluf over-invoiced several construction projects and diverted public funds to his accounts overseas. In 2007, the Manhattan district attorney's office indicted Maluf, claiming that US$140 million had passed through his secret account at Safra National Bank in New York between 1997 and 1999. In 2012, a court on the Island of Jersey found him guilty of stealing US$10.5 million by issuing over-inflated invoices for the construction of an eight-lane highway during his administration.

44 Lei Municipal 11.501/1994, São Paulo.

45 Celso Cardoso, ‘Projeto de Lei 1010, Exposição de Motivos’ (1997).

46 Dito Salim, ‘Projeto de Lei 740, Justificativa’ (1998).

47 The party would elect Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva to the presidency two years later.

48 Quoted in Roberto Cosso, ‘“Câmara tem 35 bandidos”, diz Marta’, Folha de São Paulo (27 Aug. 2000), p. A20.

49 Quoted in João Carlos Silva, ‘Acordo garante apoio a projetos de Marta’, Folha de São Paulo (26 June 2001), p. C7.

50 Ibid.

51 Carlos Apolinário, ‘Projeto de Lei 203, Justificativa’ (2001).

52 Gilmar Penteado, ‘“Favor” pode reduzir multa por ruído’, Folha de São Paulo (18 Sept. 2001).

53 Quoted in Folha de São Paulo, ‘Marta vetará projeto que beneficia templos’, Folha de São Paulo (27 Sept. 2001), p. C6.

54 Carlos Apolinário, ‘Projeto de Lei 399, Justificativa’ (2007).

55 Weiner, Isaac, Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism (New York: New York University Press, 2013), p. 6.

56 Corten, Pentecostalism in Brazil, p. 27.

57 Ibid., p. 100.

58 Oosterbaan, Martijn, ‘Sonic Supremacy: Sound, Space and Charisma in a Favela in Rio de Janeiro’, Critique of Anthropology, 29: 1 (2009), pp. 81104 .

59 Many venues in British cities have special permits that allow them to operate after 11 pm. For a discussion of debates on laws related to nightlife activity in the UK, see Hadfield, Phil, Bar Wars: Contesting the Night in Contemporary British Cities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

60 Interview with Jooji Hato, 20 Dec. 2012.

61 Comissão de Finanças e Orçamento, ‘Projeto de Lei 396, 1996’ (1997).

62 João Carlos Silva, ‘Toque de recolher começa na madrugada’, Folha de São Paulo (14 July, 1999), p. 4.

63 Comissão, ‘Projeto de Lei 396, 1996’.

64 Andréa Portella and Jobson Lemos, ‘Pitta vê “com simpatia” projeto sobre bares’, Estado de São Paulo (24 June 1999), p. C4.

65 Flávio Mello, ‘“Rebeldes promovem outra CPI [Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito, Parliamentary Inquiry Commission] contra Pitta’, Estado de São Paulo (16 April 1998), p. C7.”

66 Flávio Mello, ‘Polícia investiga 8 vereadores que derrubaram CPI’, Estado de São Paulo (1 Oct. 1999), p. C3.

67 Folha de São Paulo, ‘Sanção foi um evento político’, Folha de São Paulo (14 July 1999), p. 4.

68 Quoted in Folha de São Paulo, ‘Bar é o que vende bebida, diz secretário’, Folha de São Paulo (16 July 1999), p. 3.

69 Quoted in Rodrigo Vergara and João Carlos Silva, ‘Liminar derruba lei dos bares em SP’, Folha de São Paulo (16 July 1999), p. 3.

70 Hato, Jooji, Alcool: vetor da violência (São Paulo: Ekilibrio, 2010).

71 According to the councillor, Brazil's powerful beer industry lobbied aggressively against the bill (personal communication).

72 Flávio Mello, ‘Câmara aprova fechamento de bares à 1h’, Estado de São Paulo (23 June 1999), p. C1.

73 Ibid.

74 Bratton, William, ‘Crime is Down in New York City: Blame the Police’, in Dennis, Norman (ed.), Zero Tolerance: Policing a Free Society (West Sussex: IEA Health and Welfare Unit, 1998), p. 36. ‘Squeegee pests’ were people who, uninvited, washed car windscreens at traffic lights and demanded payment.

75 Ibid.

76 Charles Pollard, ‘Zero Tolerance: Short-Term Fix, Long-Term Liability?’, in Dennis (ed.), Zero Tolerance, pp. 44–61.

77 Miraglia, Paula, ‘Homicídios: guias para a interpretação da violência na cidade’, in Kowarick, Lúcio and Marques, Eduardo (eds.), São Paulo: novos percursos e atores (São Paulo: Editora 34, 2011), p. 339. Some authors suggest that the decrease in homicides in the late 1990s is directly related to the rise of the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Command of the Capital, PCC), a highly organised crime faction that has been able to regulate crime and violence in the city suburbs. See, for instance, Willis, Graham, ‘Deadly Symbiosis? The PCC, the State, and the Institutionalization of Violence in São Paulo, Brazil’, in Jones, G. (ed.), Youth Violence in Latin America (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 167–81.

78 Jobson Lemos, ‘Pitta deve sancionar fechamento de bar à 1h’, Estado de São Paulo (7 July 1999), p. C3.

79 Estado de São Paulo, ‘Pitta quer “cooperação” do Estado para fiscalizar bares’, Estado de São Paulo (25 June 1999), p. C4.

80 Lemos, ‘Pitta deve sancionar fechamento de bar à 1h’, p. C3.

82 Interview with Jooji Hato, 20 Dec. 2012.

83 Since the 1990s, business in sound-proofing windows for residential and commercial buildings has boomed.

84 Juliana Tourrucôo, ‘“Rigor com bares não vale nas ruas”, diz especialista em acústica’, Folha de São Paulo (4 May 2014), p. 12.

85 Câmara Municipal de São Paulo, ‘Resolução no. 18’ (27 Aug. 2013).

86 European Union, ‘Directive 2002/49/EC – 25 June 2002’, Official Journal of the European Communities (18 July 2002), p. 12.

87 Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas, NBR 10151 (2000), p. 3, available at http://www.semace.ce.gov.br/ (accessed 16 Sept. 2016).

88 Interview with Nicolas Isnard, 24 June 2012.

89 São Paulo, ‘Lei no. 16.050’ (2014).

90 At weekends and during holidays, churches can operate between 6 pm and 10 pm with the highest noise limits (7 am – 7 pm) authorised for each zone.

91 São Paulo, ‘Lei no. 16.403 – Artigo no. 146’ (2016).

92 On music/noise and law in the urban context, see Ochoa, Aurality and Rommen, Timothy, Funky Nassau (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011).

93 For a historical account of this ‘noisy’ citizenship, see Feltran, ‘Vinte anos depois’.

94 See Jordana Timerman, ‘Rolezinhos: the flash mobs currently freaking out Brazilian authorities’, The Atlantic (14 Jan. 2014).

95 Leonardo Cardoso, Sound-Politics in São Paulo (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

96 See, for instance, bills 853/1995 and 707/1997. Bill 853, by Adriano Diogo, establishes noise limits based on urban zones: http://cmspbdoc.inf.br/iah/fulltext/projeto/PL0853-1995.pdf; bill 707, by Osvaldo Enéas, mandates fines for noisy bikers: http://www.radarmunicipal.com.br/proposicoes/projeto-de-lei-707-1997 (both webpages accessed 4 Nov. 2016).

97 Cardoso, Sound-Politics in São Paulo.

* I am grateful to the anonymous reviewers and to the editors of this journal for their excellent feedback.

Keywords

The Politics of Noise Control in São Paulo

  • LEONARDO CARDOSO

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