Noise complaints are up; city considers changes

In times of thumping bass and bars mingling with housing, a city council committee on Thursday advanced changes in the city noise ordinance.

The full city council is expected to vote today on the changes approved by the Neighborhoods, Housing and Healthy Communities Committee.

City health officials say the changes are needed partly because changes in city zoning laws do not mesh with current noise law.

Also, there are now precise ways to measure bass and high frequency noise levels, said Bert Malone, health department deputy director.

Complaints average about 70 a year, he said, but numbered 178 last year.

Not so many, but they tend to be intense.

“The angriest complaints we get are from those who were awakened in the night unnecessarily,” he said.

In downtown, Waldo and other places, more bars and restaurants are going in near apartments or houses.

But there are more complaints from neighbors about neighbors, and other complaints about trash trucks, marathons and more, Malone said.

Tickets are rare and the vast majority of complaints are handled by mediation, he said.

Jonathan Rand, secretary for the Ward Parkway Homes Association, told the committee that some bars in the Waldo area have been a problem but “this is an issue everywhere.”

He also favors mediation when possible, he said, but “you’re always going to have some of these owners who are going to be defiant.”

Councilman Jim Glover agreed: “Sometimes you have to go forward with the enforcement aspect to bring the party to the table to get a solution.”

Then there are cases where a driver with massive bass speakers goes down a street with the thump so loud it sets off car alarms.

Malone said it is hard for noise ordinances to deal with such problems because the driver is gone so soon.


  1. Gayl Reinsch says:

    I would like to see barking dogs brought under the noise ordinance. I’m sure they would exceed the healthy noise level. As a dog lover, I am quick to add it isn’t the fault of the dog.

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