Where was that noise ordinance question answered? I'd really like to read it.
I’ve made off hand mention several times of a hard upper limit at the point where the noise is literally damaging.
I’ve also had separate discussions on pollution, concluding that in practice, pollution laws would be a function of the polycentric legal network.
A quick check to Mises Institute shows that they’ve tackled the issue a few times on essays relating to pollution.
Noise, too, is a form of air pollution. Noise is the creation of sound waves which go through the air and then bombard and invade the property and persons of others. Only recently have physicians begun to investigate the damaging effects of noise on the human physiology. Again, a libertarian legal system would permit damage and class action suits and injunctions against excessive and damaging noise: against “noise pollution.”
The remedy against air pollution is therefore crystal clear, and it has nothing to do with multibillion-dollar palliative government programs at the expense of the taxpayers which do not even meet the real issue. The remedy is simply for the courts to return to their function of defending person and property rights against invasion, and therefore to enjoin anyone from injecting pollutants into the air.
There are, however, more sophisticated and modern forms of homesteading, which should establish a property right. Suppose, for example, that an airport is established with a great deal of empty land around it. The airport exudes a noise level of, say, X decibels, with the sound waves traveling over the empty land. A housing development then buys land near the airport. Some time later, the homeowners sue the airport for excessive noise interfering with the use and quiet enjoyment of the houses.
Excessive noise can be considered a form of aggression but in this case the airport has already homesteaded X decibels worth of noise. By its prior claim, the airport now “owns the right” to emit X decibels of noise in the surrounding area. In legal terms, we can then say that the airport, through homesteading, has earned an easement right to creating X decibels of noise. This homesteaded easement is an example of the ancient legal concept of “prescription,” in which a certain activity earns a prescriptive property right to the person engaging in the action.
On the other hand, if the airport starts to increase noise levels, then the homeowners could sue or enjoin the airport from its noise aggression for the extra decibels, which had not been homesteaded. Of course if a new airport is built and begins to send out noise of X decibels onto the existing surrounding homes, the airport becomes fully liable for the noise invasion.
It should be clear that the same theory should apply to air pollution. If A is causing pollution of B’s air, and this can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then this is aggression and it should be enjoined and damages paid in accordance with strict liability, unless A had been there first and had already been polluting the air before B’s property was developed. For example, if a factory owned by A polluted originally unused property, up to a certain amount of pollutant X, then A can be said to have homesteaded a pollution easement of a certain degree and type.
Of course, there is one situation in which libertarians countenance forcible restriction of property development or use without any contractual agreement. That is the case where the development or use of property is itself an aggression against another person or their property — that is, where a particular property development or use violates the property rights of another. This can occur in cases where a development or use of property produces excessive pollution or noise to surrounding properties or invades their space. Thus, opening a coal-fire power station or an oil refinery in the middle of a residential neighborhood may legitimately be prevented by residents, since the pollution would involve a violation of their property rights.
Force may legitimately be used only to prevent actual property invasions by others and not merely to prevent noninvasive actions that detrimentally impact upon our enjoyment of our property. For example, in the absence of some voluntary restrictive covenant, there is no inherent right to prevent one’s neighbor from keeping a car body in his front yard or painting his garage an unsightly color. This is the case even if the aesthetic distaste for this ugliness is widespread, such that it impacts the market value of adjoining properties — there is no such thing as a right to preserve the value of one’s property, only its physical integrity. Moreover, this is true regardless of whether one is speaking of the objective market value, the subjective value to the property owner, or any other measure of value. People are entitled to protect the integrity of their property from invasive acts by others; they are not entitled to forcibly prevent legitimate acts by others merely to protect the market value of their property.
It is important to note that while O’Neill is definitely working from a Rothbardian moral perspective, Robert Murphy had a point when he said that certain things just aren’t very neighborly things to do, and launching your McNuke at the local construction yard may not bode well for your long term well being no matter how many times you call the Private Security folks bootlickers for attempting to neutralize you.
tl;dr this is a question for courts and property owners to decide. The world doesn’t move to the beat of just one drum, etc. etc. etc. But the general rule is that if you were making that much noise before without issue, you can keep making up to that amount.