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by Abigail Van Buren

Noise Complaints Speak Volumes About Neighbors

DEAR ABBY: Regarding complaints about construction workers who play their portable radios while working on homes, which the neighbors found annoying: In Marin County, Calif., the Planning Department has a standard condition prohibiting work before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on weekdays -- and always on weekends.

Nevertheless, some folks disregard the rules, in which case a formal letter of complaint is sent to the Building Department.

I recently built a lovely home, and when I hired the contractor, I informed him that my rules were: no dogs, no radios, no smoking and no blocking the driveway. I was living on the property at the time and didn't want to be disturbed, nor did I want to disturb my neighbors.

The contractor was wonderful and abided by all the rules. When the house was finished, I threw a nice party for all the workmen. -- ANNE S. IN MARIN COUNTY

DEAR ANNE S.: Congratulations on your successful housewarming. Yours was not the only letter I received in reaction to the letter about the remodeling project that upset the neighbors. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am the general contractor for the project the neighbors complained about in the letter you published on July 9. It was the third time the homeowners had hired me to work on their property, and the complaints from your writers, the couple to the east, came as no great surprise.

The project was to be finished by June 15, but due to unforeseen problems, completion was delayed one week. I, personally, would have been thrilled if my workers had started before 7 a.m. or agreed to work seven days a week, as it would have enabled me to meet the original deadline.

True, the workers had radios. On most of the occasions when those neighbors came to complain about them, the volume was so low I could barely hear it -- and I was on the property. Once, the offending radio turned out to be in the master bath of the house on the other side of their property.

Abby, Los Angeles has noise ordinances, and this couple called the police at least twice a week. Each time, they were informed that no bounds were being overstepped. Throughout the remodeling I frequently encountered, but never received a complaint, from the neighbors on the west side of the house. Nor did I ever hear a peep from the tenants of the three-story apartment building to the rear! In fact, I've since been asked to bid on similar projects by two other homeowners who live on the same block, which gives me confidence in the lack of intrusion felt by the other neighbors.

I was astounded to see the whole situation in your column. But it answered a long-standing question that many of us in the high-tech world wonder about: "Can all those letters in Dear Abby be from real people?" -- CHRISTIANNE CLARK, CLARK CONSTRUCTION AND DESIGN GROUP, CULVER CITY, CALIF.

DEAR CHRISTIANNE: There are usually two sides to every story, and in the interest of fairness, I thought my readers should see yours. Since the police were summoned to the worksite semiweekly and found nothing out of order, it seems that you were apparently not only innocent of creating noise pollution, you were well within the limits of the law.