Nanny State

Long Beach Goes after Ice Cream Truck Muzak

Won't somebody not think of the children?


"Do you take requests?"
Credit: Dean Terry / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Really, few people enjoy listening to a loud rendition of "Turkey in the Straw" that sounds like it's being played on a Simon game from the early '80s, but is it really necessary to get city government involved? Apparently it is. In Long Beach, the City Council has asked its attorney to draft an ordinance requiring ice cream trucks to stop playing their awful kid-magnet music while idling, due to noise complaints. The Los Angeles Times reports that the city meddling has caused confused truck owners to worry that they're going to be kicked out of Long Beach entirely:

A proposed city ordinance that would require vendors to obey noise ordinances and prevent them from playing music while their vehicles idle has led them to believe they were being banned from the city.

"What else can you deduce when you read news reports about the last days of an ice cream man?" said Nestor Zea, 61, of Long Beach. "We were really worried."

Zea said he had trouble sleeping when he learned about the proposed ordinance Monday.

"My wife was asking: What are we going to do? I said, don't worry, God will watch over us," he said. "But deep down inside, I was panicking, too. There's not a lot of jobs out there."

Councilman Dee Andrews is seeking to include ice cream truck music in the city's noise ordinance after receiving complaints from residents in his district, which includes the Sunrise, Whittier, Wrigley and South Wrigley neighborhoods.

"It got so misconstrued," Andrews said. "The issue here is the amplified music. Once you stop, please turn it off. That's all, nothing more and nothing less."

Except this will likely cause ice cream trucks to pick up and move the moment they stop getting new customers because nobody will know they're there, and they'll need an excuse to start playing the music again. I'm not entirely sure that's entirely a good thing for a vehicle whose primary customer base consists of small children with a still spotty understanding of road safety. The ice cream truck vendors are worried about what this will mean for business:

Nearby, Ismael Hernandez of Long Beach said many of the vendors he has spoken with aren't too happy about the possible restrictions.

Hernandez said he's worried that if vendors are parked but no one can hear the music, customers won't come. 

"The music is what brings the children out," he said. "If they take that away, our businesses are going to be affected in a negative way.

"And it doesn't end there," Hernandez said. "The ice cream suppliers are going to be affected by this, too."

But who cares about that as long as some cranky constituent isn't annoyed by loud beeping?