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County passes noise ordinance
Motorcycles, gunfire pit neighbor against neighbor

By Gus Thomson
Journal Staff Writer

In a significant step Tuesday, for a once-predominantly rural county now dealing with growth issues, supervisors approved Placer County’s first noise ordinance.

A compromise between factions concerned about private property rights issues for motorcyclists and gun shooters, and others concerned about property rights for the people who may be disturbed by excessive motorcycle engine noise or shooting, the ordinance is slated to go into effect March 9.

The ordinance relies on decibel readings to start the enforcement process, with the apparatus operated by either a Placer County Sheriff’s Department officer or a county bylaw enforcement officer.

On the highly debated issue of controls over motorcycle riders on private property, the three South Placer supervisors – Granite Bay’s Ted Gaines, Roseville’s Bill Santucci and Lincoln’s Robert Weygandt – favored decibel readings over a proposal backed by the Task Force, Meadow Vista Supervisor Rex Bloomfield and Auburn-area Supervisor Harriet White that would have put in place a 125-foot, no-ride zone inside the perimeter of people’s property.

Off-road motorcycle users were critical of a no-ride zone that could have effectively shut down dirt-bike use on some smaller properties.

The question of who will enforce the new ordinance was left unanswered during Tuesday’s meeting, with supervisors referring it back to staff for a proposal before March 9.

Supervisors also will allow a Noise Ordinance Task Force established last summer to meet again with interest groups on the firing of guns and other unresolved issues to fine-tune the ordinance. The ordinance itself would be presented to the board Dec. 16 for first reading and would be adopted in January.

In addition, White pressed for supervisors to revisit the ordinance in September – six months after the March 9 effective date. She also convinced supervisors the county should explore a dispute resolution alternative to deal with neighbor vs. neighbor feuds on noise.

“One of the reasons the task force was formed was because we got calls from people distraught over what they were going through and couldn’t talk to their neighbors,” White said. “The good neighbor policy isn’t alive and well everywhere in Placer County. If everyone was nice to one another, then we wouldn’t need to put this ordinance in place.”

The ordinance, which applies to all unincorporated areas of the county, represents a new view on noise for a county Board of Supervisors. Bloomfield had found little support in the past for noise regulations but a meeting earlier this year – with dozens of speakers from around the county expressing concerns over a variety of noise sources – tipped the balance toward exploring new anti-noise regulations.

From the start, with angry words at the March meeting from both off-road motorcycle riders and their neighbors, it became apparent that the biggest issue confronting the county on noise surrounds the use of motorized vehicles on private lands near other residences.

Describing the draft ordinance as “bureaucracy gone wild,” Christian Valley’s Ray Anderson called on supervisors Tuesday to delete a section drafted by the task force on motorcycles and instead go with sound level standards.

Sandy Harris supported the no-ride zone standards. In her Meadow Vista neighborhood are several law enforcement officers and nurses who work during the night and sleep in the daytime, she said.

Also removed from the draft ordinance was a proposal to stop motorcycle or ATV riding on most properties between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. Instead, the ordinance will address excess noise issues from night riding in decibel-reading limits.

The ordinance exempts several noise-making scenarios from regulation, including children playing, school activities, safety devices including car alarms, emergency response situations, agricultural operations and normal business activity.

Other activities that are also exempted – but subject to some time-of-day limitations – include lawn mowing and other property maintenance jobs, golf-course maintenance, and motor vehicle repairs.

Exterior sound levels are to be measured from the complainant’s property with a sound-level meter.

A first-offense citation would cost $100, a second would be $200 and $500 would be charged for every subsequent citation. An appeal would be heard by the county zoning administrator or other designated hearing officer. An appeal on that decision would be handled by a revolving three-person panel made up of supervisors or Planning Commission members. A further appeal could be lodged with the county’s Superior Court.

The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at [email protected].


8,372 Posts
Crowdog said:

Exterior sound levels are to be measured from the complainant’s property with a sound-level meter.

hanging over the fence for the highest reading or inside the house where they were bothered? man,what is this world coming to? when my boys were little i would only let them ride during the mid-day,like 10am to 4pm. so if children are playing on dirtbikes,are they exempt? what a stupid law:rolleyes: .
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