29. Noise Pollution Regulations

All frequently reoccurring noises (occurring at least twice a week) originating from any residential, commercial (including food cart bells or horns, ice cream truck music, etc.), government, public, or other property should not transmit noises to any other occupied residential property in excess of 10 decibels above average ambient noise levels during the nighttime hours between 12 PM and 6 AM. Exceptions to this rule would include vehicles traveling in a normal manner (without excessive acceleration) and within the posted speed limit. The maximum noise restrictions imposed for the hours between 10 PM and 7AM would be 15 decibels above ambient noise levels, as measured from the nearest residential property line, while 20 decibels would be the maximum limit during the hours between 8 PM and 7 AM.

During weekends and holidays all restricted times would be extended by one hour during the evenings. For New Year’s Eve, all restrictions would begin at 1 AM.

During all other times, noises infringing on residential properties should not exceed 25 decibels above ambient noise.

The above noises and decibel limits can be applied most easily to mechanical noises such as air conditioners, fans, pool pumps, etc., but also include musical instruments, televisions, radios, etc. However, any noises deemed unreasonably loud, disturbing, unnecessary, or annoying by a government official, even though they may fall within the decibel limits defined above, could qualify as noise pollution, subjecting the parties generating that noise to fines.

Noise infringements onto industrial properties would be restricted to a maximum of 65 decibels as measured from the loudest boundary line of the offending property. Noise restrictions onto commercial businesses (businesses in which customers come visit) would be restricted to 10 decibels above the restrictions existing for residential properties.

Special exemptions could be made on a temporary basis to allow more noise to legally infringe on other properties. However, all property owners and occupants affected would need to agree to the relaxed regulations for the proposed period of time (usually lasting some number of years). Perhaps willing property owners could financially (or otherwise) compensate the unwilling property owners or residents to encourage them to agree to a temporary relaxation of the rules.

These decibel restrictions do not apply to normal property maintenance operations occurring during normal working hours 8 AM to 7 PM, like operating motorized gardening equipment, construction noises, etc.

Every political jurisdiction should have enough personnel to handle the expected load of noise complaints so that an inspection officer could be sent out to every reported location where a violation is occurring within about 20 minutes of receiving the complaint, and take a decibel reading to determine if a violation is indeed occurring. Offenders should receive no warnings. Penalties, based on an average number of peak decibel events within, for example, a 5 or 10 minute period generated over the maximum limit, should be levied whenever there is an infraction, perhaps at the rate of $50 for every decibel over the maximum limit.

Plastic Wheel Noise

Large toys such as tricycles, play cars, trash cans, etc., and other items meant to operate on hard surfaces should not have wheels made out of plastic or any other material that makes a lot of noise when rolled over hard surfaces that may have a few grains of sand on it. Instead the wheels should be made or coated with rubber or some other material, or designed differently so that they roll quietly over hard surfaces.

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