Noise Abatement Tips

Noisy Neighbors and Nuisance Parties

 Noisy neighbors and nuisance parties are a common problem in Davis. Some residential lots are small, property lines are close, and there are multi-family dwellings throughout the city. And, we are the home of a world class university, which brings youth and parties. Obviously, this issue can be most significant when you share walls or a floor/ceiling with a neighbor in an apartment, duplex or condo. But even in freestanding homes, a noisy neighbor can make life challenging, particularly if noise continues well into the night, or occurs during early morning hours. This situation is a delicate one to deal with, requiring your ability to keep your calm, especially when discussing the noise with a neighbor or knowing when it’s time to call the police.  Listed below are information and tips on how to resolve a noise issue.

 

First Steps

 

You should first attempt to address noisy neighbors about the noise. This conversation should be polite, even friendly. It can begin with a statement like, “I’m not sure you’re aware”, the person making the noise may not recognize that the noise they make penetrates your walls. Explain briefly the noise issue, and ask the neighbor to turn down the music, create situations for the dog to stop barking, or not hold parties until 3 AM. You can also add that you realize they hear your noise also, and you’re certainly willing to try to stop anything in your behavior that is creating extra noise in their home.

 

You should be aware that not all neighbors are going to respond to your request, and some may respond in a hostile manner. If noisy neighbors don’t change their behavior, you have options. The City of Davis does have a noise ordinance and it is enforced by the Davis Police Department. If the noise is loud and disturbing, you can file a noise complaint by calling the Davis Police Department business number at (530) 747-5400. Make sure you call at the time the noise is occurring. The arriving officer must hear the noise and determine there is a violation in order to take enforcement action.

 

You don’t have to call the police. You can write a letter (keep a copy) to the offender(s), the property owner, or the property management company, if there is one, detailing the noise problem. If the regular noise problems stop, you have solved your problem. If not, the Davis Police Department can be called for further assistance.

 

If you live in an apartment or are part of a homeowner’s association (HOA), you should also check for any policies on noise. It may be that your HOA or apartment complex has specific quiet time rules. With your letter to noisy neighbors, include copies of city ordinances on noise, HOA rules, or apartment complex rules. Politely ask the neighbor to comply with these ordinances and do state that you will need to report continued violations to complex management, the HOA, or the Davis Police Department, if necessary.

 

If noise, nuisance, or party problems persist, there are a variety of ways to deal with the problem.

 

Noise Ordinance

 

The City of Davis has a robust noise ordinance, which is enforced by calling the Davis Police Department (530) 747-5400 at the time the noise or party is occurring. The ordinance can be located online at http://qcode.us/codes/davis/ .

 

                        General Noise Prohibition- It is an infraction for any person to willfully make any noise which unreasonably disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood. In determining whether the noise is unreasonable, the following factors are used;

(1)    Loudness (intensity) of the sound;

(2)    Pitch (frequency) of the sound, e.g. very low bass or high screech;

(3)    Duration of the sound;

(4)    Time of day;

(5)    Necessity of noise, e.g. garbage collecting;

(6)    Background noise.

 

                        Permits Required- It is an infraction to have a party with more than one hundred people in attendance and where the noise emanating from the event will be audible at the property plane without first getting a noise permit from the Davis Police Department.

 

                        Loud Animals- It is an infraction to keep or maintain any animal or fowl which, by any sound, cry or behavior causes annoyance or discomfort.

 

                        Other Loud Noise- The noise ordinance has separate provisions relating to construction noise, use of power tools, and other categories of noise.

 

Public Nuisance

The City of Davis also has a robust nuisance ordinance, which can be enforced by the Davis Police Department and Code Enforcement.

 

Nuisance- In California, anything which is injurious to health, or is indecent, or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood, or by any considerable number of persons, or unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any navigable lake, or river, bay, stream, canal, or basin, or any public park, square, street, or highway, is a public nuisance. The City of Davis further defines many other conditions which are considered a nuisance http://qcode.us/codes/davis/ .

 

The nuisance ordinance can be a useful tool in dealing with a persistently noisy neighbor or with a “party house.” Under the nuisance ordinance, any person owning, leasing, occupying and/or having charge or possession of any premises or land in Davis can be held responsible for correcting the nuisance. In addition, if they fail to correct the problem, all of the persons allowing the nuisance to continue are subject to administrative fines.

 

Under California law, a person who creates a nuisance is subject to arrest and prosecution on a misdemeanor offense.

 

If a person is cited for a noise violation by the Davis Police Department, the citation is forwarded to Code Enforcement.  If it is the first citation at the property within 12 months, a Notice of Violation (written warning) is mailed to the property owner.  The Notice of Violation will state that the City received a complaint related to a noise violation on their property. There will be no follow-up from the City at this point.

 

If additional noise violations are issued, within a 12-month period at the same address, the City will issue an Administrative Citation to the property owner. The first citation is $100, the second violation $200, and any subsequent violations will be $500 each.

 

Unlawful Gathering on Private Property

The Davis City Code provides that, no person, corporation or organization shall suffer, permit, allow or host a party, gathering or event at his or her place of residence or other private property, place or premises where persons under the age of twenty-one years are present and alcoholic beverages are in the possession of, or are being consumed by, any person under the age of twenty-one years. A first violation is an infraction and any subsequent offenses within one year of the first offense are a misdemeanor.

Next Steps

 If you have a persistently noisy neighbor or are dealing with a “party house,” you are encouraged to contact the Community Policing Sergeant at the Davis Police Department (530) 747-5400. The Community Policing Sergeant will offer suggestions on how to deal with the problem, and will assign the complaint to an officer to work with you on abating the noise.  

 

After an officer gets involved, common next steps are:

 

·         Contacting the residents and letting them know of the complaints. Often times personal contact may help abate the problem.

·         Sending a formal warning to the resident, property manager, and/or property owner letting them know they must correct the problem.

·         Issuing citations for violations.

·         Working with Code Enforcement to issue administrative citations.

·         Asking the District Attorney to enforce state law nuisance provisions.

 

You may also take private legal action against anyone who creates a nuisance. Remedies include asking a judge to order the nuisance be abated or suing to recover damages for any harm created by the nuisance.

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