City to silence “bird repeller” after Echo Park neighbors start squawking

It’s no secret that Sunset Boulevard through Echo Park is far from quiet, with the noise of everything from roaring buses to police sirens and drunken bar hoppers filling the air. But Echo Park residents living on the south side of Sunset Boulevard near Portia Street have in recent months faced a new and unexpected source of noise, the screeching, beeping and squawking coming from a $240,000 electronic traffic sign installed by the city last year. The soundtrack  (click on the player at the bottom of the story to listen)  is generated by a “bird repeller” intended to scare off pooping pigeons and other birds from the sign topped by “Echo Park” written in neon blue script.  But the soundtrack  plays on a loop even at night when there are no birds to scare away and can be heard inside with the windows shut, according to  Ted Dorsey, who recently bought a home near the sign. His home and those of his neighbors are perched on a hill above Sunset, putting them at the same level as the noisy traffic sign.

“I almost prefer the fake bird cries to the high-pitched whoop because that sound will get in your head,” said Dorsey by email. “We don’t live at the house yet, but we’ve spoken to the neighbors who confirmed that the sound runs 24 hours a day. Sunset can be a river of noise, and depending on the conditions it can be quite loud, louder than the sign. But the sign is so high-pitched and monotonous (it’s incessant) that you can’t miss it, even when traffic drowns it out for a moment.”

In response to an inquiry from The Eastsider, the city’s Department of Transportation is dispatching a crew to silence the changeable message sign.  Department spokesman Bruce Gillman said in an email that the “bird repeller” recording machine is standard equipment on the new generation of changeable message signs.

“Occasionally, when the signs are close to residences, the noises emitted can be audible to people too,” Gillman said.  “We’ll see if birds become an issue on this changeable message sign (CMS) and if they do, look at other alternatives such as ‘whirling antennas’ or ‘springs on top’ to discourage our feathered friends from landing atop the CMS.”

Noisy Echo Park traffic signs by The Eastsider LA


  1. Would somebody please just demolish this thing already.

  2. From all of us on the hill above the sign, THANK YOU for reporting this. I doubt that we would have gotten the rapid response from the city that you managed to elicit. Residents 1, Noise pollution 0.

  3. Every time I want to decry the idiocy of anti-government libertarian-types, I think of these signs and remember that sometimes, government can be stupid and wasteful.

    I live about 100 feet from this sign, but luckily I can’t hear it.

  4. That’s probably the reason why all those birds have been dropping dead in Arkansas.

  5. stupid requirements

    What an ugly piece of junk.

  6. The sign might look better if it was stuccoed in pigeon shit.

  7. This is happening to us in Silver Lake up on the hill behind Astro at Silver Lake and Fletcher. The sound is piercing, oscillating in frequency, and goes 24 hours. It’s driving me nuts and has actually gotten louder recently. We can hear it over the TV with all of the windows shut. I’m not sure who to talk to about it. I’m not really sure exactly where it’s coming from either. But it’s absolute torture.

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