Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:
Question: The city just started a new noise ordinance, which includes vehicle noise. The blasting car amps, the unmuffled exhausts (when they choose) are pretty much the routine for Friday and Saturday nights. This enforcement has been left to the Police Department. I would like to know how many tickets have been issued to the parading cars and trucks with hugely loud exhausts and stereos. How many vehicles have been ticketed? Not warnings, not vouchers — but real tickets for the extremely loud noise. Maybe Answer Man can find out?
My answer: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that with a police force that stopped responding to a wide range of minor crimes, ranging from theft and graffiti to identity theft and some simple assaults, booming car stereos probably are not going to bring out the troops.
Real answer: Asheville Police Department spokeswoman Samantha Booth said she checked in with the department's crime analyst to "narrow down the fields a bit since the writer is asking more specifically about noise violations when it comes to vehicles, or for example loud radios.
"APD has only issued 47 total tickets for noise ordinance violations since 2004 until present," Booth said via email. "Furthermore, 30 of the tickets during that time period were for loud mufflers. The most recent loud muffler charge occurred in February of 2020."
Booth also noted what I mentioned above, that as of June of 2021, APD "suspended response to several types of calls in effort to improve emergency response times due to the department's staffing crisis."
Booth also provided a link to the city's new noise ordinance, which you can find here: www.ashevillenc.gov/department/development-services/noise-compliance/.
The updated noise ordinance went into effect Sept. 15, by the way, a few weeks after a contentious City Council hearing. The web page has all the specifics on noise violations and how to file a complaint.
It also has a fact sheet with some interesting information. For instance, "In 2020, noise complaints remained consistent with previous years." Also:
● The city had 1,785 total noise complaints in 2020, compared to 1,778 total complaints in 2019.
● In 2020, 41% of complaints occurred on Friday or Saturday. For 2012-2018, it was 40%.
● 45% of complaints in 2020 occurred between 10 p.m.-2 a.m. That's the same percentage as for the years 2012-2018.
● 13% of noise complaints occurred from 11 p.m.-12 a.m. The same held true for 2012- 2018.
● The highest number of complaints are received on holiday weekends.
"Noise complaints are highest in downtown, specific multi-family apartment buildings, specific public housing communities and corridors where residents live adjacent to businesses/industries (like Haywood Road)," the city noted. "Density drives noise issues in Asheville."
Follow-up on military jets at AVL: On Nov. 26, I fielded a question about two military jets that a reader spotted at Asheville Regional Airport. The reader identified them as F-18 fighter jets, and the airport said it's fairly common for military jets to utilize AVL for training or refueling.
I heard from several readers with military backgrounds who were able to offer some more expertise on these warbirds.
"The picture that was provided wasn’t the greatest ever, but (it) was good enough to identify these aircraft," one former Marine wrote. "These are EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. They’re specialized variants of the F/A-18 Hornet family, so the reader wasn’t wrong to call them F-18s."
The identifying features, he noted, "are the canted (angled) twin tails, the large diamond shaped air intakes on the sides of the fuselages (bodies) of the planes, and the large pods on the wingtips of each jet. These pods house receiving antennas for the jets’ electronic attack systems."
This reader also pointed out the photo wasn't quite clear enough to tell what unit they’re from, "but since most Growler squadrons are based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State, these aircraft are likely flying cross-country to somewhere on the East Coast, whether for an exercise, or for training workups with an East Coast Carrier Air Wing that’s getting ready to deploy, or perhaps they’re just pulling airshow display duty somewhere, or it could just be a flight practicing cross-country navigation to keep their skills current."
By the way, he ended with this, which I found humorous: "Don’t worry, all this information is publicly available."
Meanwhile, the original reader who sent the question in sent me a follow-up email saying he had also spotted the word "Cougars" stenciled on the planes, although that didn't show up in the photo.
That sealed the deal.
I reached out to the public affairs officer for the Cougars of Electronic Attack Squadron 139 (VAQ-139), Lt. JG Erin Rouse.
"I was forwarded correspondence between yourself and our ombudsman regarding two jets in Asheville, N.C., on Nov. 21, 2021," Rouse said via email. "I would just like to confirm that those were two EA-18G Growlers from our squadron conducting training. Thank you very much for your interest in our squadron. Go Cougars!"
An internet page I found for the Cougars (https://www.seaforces.org/usnair/VAQ/Electronic-Attack-Squadron-139.htm) says they are indeed based at NAS Whidbey Isley, their aircraft carrier is the USS Nimitz, and the unit was established in July 1983.
I asked Rouse for more details on the training, but I got nothing more.
So, there you go. Those jets were a long way from home, but I guess now we can confirm that we once again have Cougars in the mountains.
This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Answer Man: Any noise violation citations? Military jet mystery solved?