What’s more annoying? Echo Park church bells or the horn blower by the lake?

Photo from Google Maps

Photo by Ascom/Flickr

Noise is a constant companion to anyone who lives in Echo Park, whether it’s the barking dog down the hill, the police helicopter overhead or the teenager beating drums next door. Down by Echo Park Lake, however, some sounds that many would welcome –  solemn church bells and soulful horns – are taking a toll on a few residents.  One woman named Stacy who lives on the west side of the lake contacted The Eastsider last week to complain about the “horn blower,” a man who plays his horn, some say it is a trombone, to no one in particular while standing by the lake near Glendale Boulevard.  Last year, Stacy said someone event posted flyers around the lake and on nearby Clinton Avenue  asking how residents could get rid of the noisy nuisance. No action was taken and now Stacy wants some relief:

I‘m all for freedom of expression, but after a few years of his “neh, neh, neh, neh, neeeeeh, neh” over and over and over again, I’m looking to make it stop, or at least not start up at 7:30 a.m. I’m sure I’m not the only person that would love for this racket to stop.

But another  nearby lake resident said the toots of the horn blower are not nearly as annoying as the bells tones from the Cathedral Center of Saint Paul, also known as St. Athanasius, the Episcopal church that has been located for more than a century on the east side of the lake.  The bell sounds created by the church carillon seems to have become more frequent and they are never on time to boot, said the long-term Echo Park resident. Last week,  the bells had become so bothersome that the bell-weary resident fired off an email to the church:

I live across the lake from the Church and now that the weather is warmer I have my windows open more, so I hear your bells loud and clear. As of this morning it appears that the bell schedule is seven minutes ahead of the correct time – in other words the hourly bell is sounding at seven minutes before the hour. The bells have also been sounding every fifteen minutes (is this really necessary?) since 8:08 this morning, and they too are seven minutes ahead of time. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

The email complaining about the noisy bells met with silence from the church. But The Eastsider had better luck getting a response. “No. They are not ringing louder, and, no, they are not ringing any more frequently,” said church spokesman Bob Williams, who works at the church, which shares the building with Episcopal Dioceses of Los Angeles.

Williams said the carillon at St. Athanasius – Los Angeles’ oldest Episcopalian congregation, founded in 1864 – has been operating since the new church buildings were constructed in the early 1990s. He assumes that bells tolled long before in the old church, which was demolished to make way for the new facility at Echo Park and Laguna avenues. The carillon’s daily repertoire includes “The Angelus,”  when the bell strikes nine times in a centuries-old call to prayer. Williams said he would check to see if the carillon is sounding bells at the proper time.

Another Echo Park resident, Gloria Sohacki, who lives on Laguna Avenue near the church also said the church bells are not on time and do ring about every fifteen minutes at times. She, however, does not find it annoying:

I believe it is on a timer and I think it is set a little ahead of time.  When I am home and paying attention when I hear the bells I always look at the clock and it seems to be ahead of time by about 10 minutes.  Probably no one paid attention as it blended in with all the noise around the lake.  I find it comforting. Reminds me of my childhood.


  1. the church bells are lovely. melodic reminders of the passing of time and our own ultimate impermanence.

  2. The church was there first, and I think it’s the home for the Los Angeles Diocese. If you don’t like church bells, don’t move near a church. This is like people who move by the airport and complain about air traffic or move next to a school and whine about kids. If you don’t do your due diligence when scouting a new neighborhood, everyone else doesn’t have to change what they’ve been doing (in this case for a century) to accommodate you.

  3. Are you kidding me? These people need to move to the middle of the desert. Or maybe the birds chirping would be too annoying?

  4. The bells are fine, even though they aren’t on time. I live above the lake and the guy with the horn needs to stop. No talent, same thing over and over. Get a life.

  5. How about a compromise? Once an hour ON THE HOUR. why do i need to know that it’s 8:15? (actually 8:07)

  6. I live across the street from the church and agree they are definitely off schedule — early by 8-10 minutes. But I do enjoy waking each morning to the duet of ringing bells and honking geese!

  7. Local resident and STRONGLY agree that if they want to keep the bells ringing, at the very LEAST they should be on time. It’s frankly embarrassing that they are so far off the mark.

    Wouldn’t mind dropping the quarter hours either, but hey, I’m trying to be a realist here.

  8. Trumpet thrower

    I run this lake everyone morning and the bells are just lovely but that guy on the trumpet has to go. It’s not his crap trumpet skills, its his bi-polar schizo attitude that pisses me off. He stands on the glendale side of the lake and lets the sun rise on him while he preaches at & criticizes the people going by. Like the time he yelled at me that my dog was evil and I was going to hell because my dog, not god is my best friend. If you see that guy chasing someone around the lake, its me, because that horn is going in the water before they fix that joint up.

  9. My vote is against the church bells and for the trombone player. I don’t like the “Church” bugging me about what time it is – especially when it’s 4 times an hour and 7 minutes early each time. If it were anyone other than a religious organization creating this nuisance, we wouldn’t put up with it.
    There’s no question that it’s gotten more frequent. The church spokesman denying that only shows me he’s not there to hear it.
    At least the trombone player is not electronically activated and will stop when he gets tired.

  10. To correct the record, the carillon bells starting ringing with construction of the new Episcopalian Church about 15 years ago. The historic church that was its predecessor did not have public bells. We moved to the west side of the lake in 1992, and witnessed the change.

  11. I am going to send this post to our cowardly neighbor who just got us kicked out of our house for “having loud parties all the time and talking too loud outside of our house” (which are all total fabrications of the truth btw). We live in one the largest cities in the world and our neighborhood is smack dab in the middle of it all. If our neighbor wants true peace and quiet may I suggest moving to the god damned country! I am also posting this comment to warn all renters of single family homes in LA that live next to trust fund hippie home owners who have too much time on their hands. They wield quite a bit of power apparently. We called the LAHA and they referred us to the Bureau of Consumer Affairs who informed us our only course of action was to file a discrimination suit in small claims court. What we actually did was create a petition of all our other surrounding neighbors stating that we are considerate and stand up folks and presented it along with several letters of neighborly recommendation to the home owner. He promptly awarded us the right to remain tenants of the house. Once our terrible neighbor learned of this outcome she fabricated more lies and bombarded our home owner with more calls saying we were having crazy loud parties at all hours and saying she called the cops on us, which I confirmed a complaint with the Northeast Division was never filed. We are a working class household who do not have time to do such things. In the end the home owner sided with the nasty lying neighbor and decided to terminate our tenancy effective July 1st stating “the only solution to avoid further complaints was for us to move out.” Coincidentally the home owner and the neighbor have been “friends” for years. We further learned that this same neighbor has perpetrated the same acts to the previous 2 tenants of this home. This unjust act saddened my wife and I deeply for we love Echo Park and the street we live on. We understand that noise is a part of living in this great neighborhood of ours and it is a shame that some can’t grasp the simple concept of more people equals more noise. Single family home renters beware, home owners, who have it out for you, can get you kicked out for unwarranted reasons especially if they happen to know the home owner you rent from. For the record I like the church bells and don’t really mind the horn blower because both are much more enjoyable than the sirens and helicopters.

    Angry Renter

  12. As of noon today the (simulated) bells are now sounding at the correct time. The Eastsider gets results!

  13. I feel blessed (pun intended) to only be situated within earshot of no invasive tromboners and but a couple nearby churches, which only — and appropriately and beautifully — tolls their bells on Sunday mornings.

  14. SolanoCanyonPop

    What kind of asshole complains about church bells ringing?

  15. you know while we’re at it, I can’t stand the sound of the buses driving up the street: let’s cancel all bus service. and while we’re at it, all cars can no longer drive by my section of LA. and no dogs, and no police helicopters, and children, and trash trucks, or squeaky gates (god they really bother me). and no one can laugh when I’m trying to relax. and bees; damn that infernal buzzing. and my own body sounds really get on my nerves. someone needs to pass a law against me. and….

  16. I used to visit a friend right across the street from the church and I experienced the bells.
    Church bells are a nice sound compared to sirens, gunshots, helicopters.
    However these are loud enough to interrupt telephone conversations if your window is open and if you live close enough to it, it can wake you right up from a nap and so on.

    If I were the church, I would chime gently on the hour, maybe from 9am-9pm and a few more bells for Sunday.
    Of course if you live some distance from the Church, the bell recordings are soft and pretty, up close, they’re inescapable.

    btw the houses across the street sure lost their view of the park when that church was built, and I couldn’t visit my friend on Sundays At All, the street parking was wiped out.

  17. I love church bells and that’s one of the only things about churches I do like. I spend a lot of time at the park and the bells sound great to me. Hurray they fixed the time. People who don’t like them should consider moving to a quieter spot. Seriously. Until then, turn on a fan maybe?

  18. Currently the most annoying things in Echo Park are men wearing fedoras and other stupid hats and eye wear. This is an interesting community in spite of people walking around looking like assholes. I’m told there’s still room in Portland for you types.

  19. These complaints are irrational. The church bells are too loud.The cars are too wooshy. The geese are mocking me. The ice cream truck song makes me nauseated. Sometimes I can hear people laughing really loud and it makes me feel things.

    This is life baby.

    Be glad you can hear shit at all.

  20. I went to the chuch a few years ago… to ask them to reset the bells to run on time. It worked for a few weeks then went awry again. As far as the trombone guy – it’s annoying, for sure. But it all pales in comparison to the STUPID F-ING MORON PREACHER WITH THE SOUND SYSTEM who shows up in the summer on Sundays…. and screams bloody sermons for hours on end.

  21. anti-trumboner

    The trombone guy-I think he’s mentally ill. I live across from the park and on Tuesday he started up at 7am. No tune, no song, just weird blarttttt!!!! sort of noises, and the occasional DUH duh duh DUH duh duh.
    He has been doing it for years, when I first moved to Echo Park I lived on Sunset, and I could hear it in the mornings all the way down there, and wonder what the hell it was-and that was 9 years ago! He hasn’t gotten any better, which is actually kind of sad, playing an instrument for years and years, disturbing the peaceful sleep of residents, and never learning to play a note.
    Yeah, someone needs to haul his trombone off into the lake. Other people may say it’s an irrational complaint, but it’s literally the only noise that I complain about, and I live between the freeway and a public park.
    The church bells are quite nice, though.

  22. @Mortonie

    Absolutely spot on comment. Damn!



  23. @PACMAN – do you live on Sargent Place?

  24. Ha! I noticed the change was different at 7am today! I use it as a gauge on how many minutes I’ve got till I have to leave and I was late this fine morning. I’ve lived across from the lake for more than 10 years and noticed it goes wonky from time to time, but I like it being there. I like waking in the morning to the bells and geese, I can’t believe someone is so irrational as to be annoyed by it. Solono Canyon Pop shares my exact sentiments.
    Stacey! You can’t control everything in your life! Breathe and concentrate on what makes you so knitpicky about a rather benign issue.

  25. i for one am a big fan of both the church bells and the trumpet guy. there are way worse problems to have.

  26. On the positive side, if the biggest annoyances in Echo Park now are churchbells and trumpets, then the neighborhood has really come a long way.

  27. I live less then 10ft away from the church, actually im looking at the pigeons hanging out on the ledges as we speak from my window (i live next door), if anything the ducks are louder then the bells. And I love the ducks. To tell you the truth, I don’t always notice the bells, but when I do, I drink dos equis

  28. I agree with LL. If you don’t like the noise, move out of the city. Stop complaining.

  29. Trumpet thrower

    Its the trombone guy yelling at me and other people that pisses me off. I dont care about his trumpet playing as its far less annoying than his voice. It’s his preaching at me that is going to get his trombone wet, not his flat B# shabby trills. You just cant stand at the lake, hurl unwarranted insults at people and not expect some heat back. I told myself i would give him one more chance before I wreck his world.

    And yes I called myself trumpet thrower not trombone. Now I gotta live with….but I wont have to live with that trombone much longer….

  30. I love the bells; but they’ve never been on time.

  31. To Angry Renter:
    Know how you feel. I wish you luck in you apt. seeking, hope you can stay in E.P. As for me noise is noise, we live in a city , not a country box.

  32. @curious no, Douglas. Why? Is there an entitled dick on that street too? @EchoParkLady thanks! We would love to stay in EP if you hear of any lovely pet friendly 2 BR in the area please post here! Otherwise Highland Park/Mt. Washington here we come.

  33. I am back home in a small village outside Chicago. Guess what–the churches ring their bells every quarter hour. How comforting to hear in this quiet village. The same random rings come from all different churches but I know the pattern. The time may not always be correct but at least I know what is meant by the bells whether they be inside a church or inside a home. Think of a big grandfather clock in the corner that rings its bells every quarter hour. How wonderful.

  34. It’s a city! Urban environments have noise. And yes, I hear the bells as well as the trains, and the trombone dude, and the mockingbird outside my window, and the TV of the neighbor across the street, and ice cream truck, and the 101 freeway… it’s called ear plugs. People who live in cities use them all the time.

  35. I live downtown, and the mentally ill trumpet guy used to play over here on Hill Street several months ago. Extremely annoying.

  36. Also, just because we live in a city and are surrounded by things that make noise, doesn’t mean we have to put up with aural ABUSE. Especially at 7 in the morning!

  37. It’s 8:45 am… birds a-chirpin’, ducks a-quackin’, the sound of cars racing down Glendale Blvd towards downtown… and the churchbells on time. It’s the simple things, folks.

  38. The trombone player makes me smile – it is a human touch. The church bells are excessive,every 1/4 hour is too much! Growing up my mother “killed” our mantle clock for that reason! On the hour is enough!!

  39. lol! I was late again thinking the clock was 7 minutes ahead. And for some reason, I thought that the trumpet guy was a love sick goose!

  40. I hate to call the church spokesman a liar, buuuuut, they are absolutely ringing more frequently. It wasn’t until a little over a year or so ago that they quadrupled the number of times the bells ring. Twelve times a day is fine, 48 untimely interruptions is excessive.

    And to the people with the argument that cities are noisy, get used to it or move: post your address and I’ll have the Horn Blower outside your bedroom window at 7:30am… I have a feeling that at least one of you will change your tune.

  41. anti-trumboner

    I love how all these people are like “get used to it, it’s a city”, and they probably have no freakin’ idea how annoying the trombone guy is, nor do they live right across from the lake to hear it every other morning. They probably think he is actually PLAYING a TUNE, however, he is not, and inbetween his random hoots on the horn, he verbally abuses people.
    Take today, for instance, he was screaming obscenities at three middle aged men, calling then FAGGOTS and telling them they were going to perish in the FIRES OF HELL! They did nothing to him, they were just walking by, just as I was with my dog.
    1. It’s besides the point, but they definitely were not gay.
    2. How does everyone like this crazy annoying nuisance now?
    Does he really add more “color” to the neighborhood? Is this ranting “charming”? Something we complainers just have to “get used to?” Please people, it’s a valid complaint-besides the trombone being a totally noise violation at 8 am, who wants to be screamed at by some nutjob? -Oh, all you people who said you’re fine with him.
    See you down at the lake the next morning he’s there! We’ll see how much you value his addition to the neighborhood when he’s spewing abuse at you!

  42. At 10am this morning, I heard the churchbells, after which a neighbor played his accuostic piano for us all to hear up on Belmont and Clinton…. it was “church music” of sorts……classical and yet familiar to me from films/movies and reminiscent of another era…… A time when we all would have known the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” and not been ashamed of singing it loud and clear……
    Made my morning; I just moved in 11-1 and plan to stick around this wonderfull and eclectic LA neighborhood – a neighborhood that can make you forget that you are surrounded by several million anonymous souls. Thank God for that!

  43. Wow, somehow this article slipped by me. I lived atop Laguna, across the street from the church, with a view of the lake, til about a year ago, and I’ll tell ya, I really miss both those things. Although the bells were never ringing every 15 minutes when I was there. The trombone was an acquired taste. He’s actually quite good. Out there, but he can play. The things that always drove me up the WALL though?

    – The church holding their weekly food bank at the EXACT time of Laguna street cleaning, not only tying up a bunch of valuable parking spots, but also bringing an influx of cars into the neighborhood, meaning local residents, already limited to have the number of parking spots, often have to move their cars, oh, half a mile away. Why? Why does it have to be Thursday and/or Friday morning from 10-12 am? Ugh. Bad neighbors.
    – Speaking of which, the church allows homeless people to sleep on its property, just to ensure all those living across the street can be blasted by the sounds of bum infighting bouncing off those oversized stucco walls straight into their bedrooms at all hours of the night.
    – The aforementioned screaming Spanish-language megaphone preachers. If they could just speak calmly, it wouldn’t trigger one’s innate stress mechanism.
    – The Angelus Temple keeping their doors open during their worship services, esp. on Thursdays, so the whole neighborhood can suffer along with full-band praise songs accompanied by a horde of off-pitch singers. It’s called Echo Park for a reason, y’know.
    – In fact, once, I was so tormented by some *really* out-of-tune worship music warbling that I had to track it down, and it turned out to be that little Spanish-language church all the way over on Glendale in that storefront between Domino’s and Ms. Donut. Swear to God. Sound really travels.

    Nice to get that off my chest, even if it doesn’t affect me anymore. Thank you.

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