Sequim turns to classical music to keep away hooligans

SEQUIM, Wash. -- What's a soothing sound for some is Sequim's answer to vandalism and loitering.

They have tried everything: cameras, signs, locks. Nothing has worked.

"Vandalism in the restrooms -- it's a problem in our city. It's a common problem in all cities and loitering," said Sequim Public Works Director Paul Haines.

Now, Bizet's Carmen plays outside the bathroom door. It's supposed to stop loitering. But one trio still plays hackey sack nearby.

"It's amazing music. It's classical. It's wonderful. Everybody loves it, so I don't see why they'd use it to drive us away," said Greg Phillips.

Bus rider Josh Forburg says if the idea was reduce loitering, it isn't working.

"Not really, no. There are more kids hanging out," he said. The kids like the classical music? "I guess so," said Forburg.

But the city says the music is working; there has been no vandalism.

But if the city did want to shoo the kids away, Phillips says the city should take a different approach: "Country music! Country music would drive me far, far away," he said.

In fact, the sound system is programmable to play Bizet today, Carrie Underwood tomorrow. And there's more.

"There's a special chip you can buy that targets young people," Haines said. "It is a very high-pitched sound that only people under 25 are supposed to be able to hear."

You know, that under-25 chip doesn't sound like a bad idea. I wouldn't be able to hear it. Don't tell, but I'm over 25.

Sequim city officials say they have no plans to buy the chip. They say they are just trying to create a pleasant place for people of all ages. But they say they may install classical music systems at other public restrooms and in city parks.