Chapter 9.56
NOISE

Sections:

9.56.010    Declaration of policy.

9.56.020    Definitions.

9.56.030    Loud or unusual noises prohibited.

9.56.040    General noise limits.

9.56.050    Standard exceptions to general noise limits.

9.56.060    Exceptions allowed with permit.

9.56.070    Exemptions.

9.56.080    Other limitations.

9.56.090    Additional restrictions.

9.56.095    Signage requirements for landscape contractor vehicles.

9.56.100    Violations, penalties.

9.56.010 Declaration of policy.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the city of Sonoma, in the exercise of its police power, to protect the peace, health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Sonoma from excessive, unnecessary and unreasonable noises from any and all sources in the community. It is the intention of the city council to control the adverse effect of such noise sources on the citizens by prescribing standards prohibiting detrimental levels of noise and by providing a remedy for violations. The provisions of this chapter and the remedies contained in this code shall be cumulative and are not intended to replace any otherwise available remedies for public or private nuisances, nor any other civil or criminal remedies otherwise available. In addition, the regulations contained herein are not intended to substitute for any noise analysis conducted as a part of the city’s environmental review process for discretionary permit approvals, nor is it intended to limit more strict noise control requirements for discretionary permit approvals when stricter measures are found to be necessary in order to maintain noise levels that are not detrimental to the health and welfare of the citizens of the city. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, certain terms are defined as follows:

A. “‘A’-weighted sound level (dBA)” means a decibel scale that approximates the way the human ear responds to various acoustic frequencies.

B. “Commercial property” means property zoned as “Commercial,” “Gateway Commercial,” or “Winery,” as provided in the city of Sonoma development code.

C. “Constant” noise means a continuous noise produced where there is no noticeable change in the level of the noise source. Examples would include such noises as those associated with air conditioners and pool equipment.

D. “Daytime” for purposes of this chapter means the period between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

E. “Decibel” means the measurement unit used for the level of sound/noise.

F. “Holidays, city-designated” mean those holidays designated as such by the city of Sonoma, including: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day following Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

G. “Intermittent” noise means repetitive noises where there is a distinction between the onset and decay of the sound. Examples would include hammering and dog barking.

H. “Leaf blower” means a machine, powered by a gasoline engine or electric motor, used to blow, displace, or vacuum leaves, dirt, and debris.

I. “Mixed use property” means property zoned as “Mixed Use” as provided in the city of Sonoma development code.

J. “Multifamily residential structure” means any dwelling structure where two or more dwellings are separated by a common wall, floor, or ceiling, including but not limited to apartments, condominiums and townhouses.

K. “Nighttime” for purposes of this chapter means the period between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

L. “Noise level” means the maximum constant or intermittent sound level produced by a source or group of sources as measured with a sound level meter using fast response and “A”-weighting. In order to measure a noise level, the controls of the sound level meter should be arranged to the setting appropriate to the type of noise being measured.

M. “Sound level meter” means a device for measuring sound level in decibel units within the performance specifications in the American National Standards Institute Standard S1.4, “Specification for Sound Level Meters.”

N. “Property plane” means a vertical plane including the property line that determines the property boundaries in space.

O. “Public property” means property zoned as “Public” or as “Park” as provided in the city of Sonoma development code, or any public street, right-of-way, or easement.

P. “Residential power equipment” means any mechanically powered saw, sander, drill, grinder, leaf blower, lawnmower, hedge trimmer, edger, or any other similar tool or device, when used in or on any residential property.

Q. “Residential property” means property zoned for residential use as provided in the city of Sonoma development code, or properties zoned for mixed use or as where the principal use is residential. (Ord. 01-2016 § 3, 2016; Ord. 02-2011 §§ 1(A), (B), 2011; Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.030 Loud or unusual noises prohibited.

No person shall maintain, emit or make, or cause, suffer or permit to be maintained, emitted or made, any noise or sound produced by human, animal, mechanical or other means, which by reason of its raucous or nerve-wracking nature shall disturb the peace or comfort or be injurious to the health of any person or persons; and such a noise or sound may be deemed in violation of this section regardless of whether it is found to be within the noise limits established elsewhere in this chapter for the location or type of noise or sound. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.040 General noise limits.

Subject to the exceptions and exemptions set forth in SMC 9.56.050 and 9.56.060, the general noise limits set forth in this section shall apply. A summary of the general noise limits set forth in this section is set forth in Table 1. Where two or more noise limits may apply, the more restrictive noise limit shall govern. For purposes of determining sound levels from any source of sound, a sound level measurement shall be made at any point on any receiving private or public property. Sound level measurements shall be made with a sound level meter (Type 1 or 2) set to A-weighting, and “fast” response for intermittent sound. Slow or fast response may be used for constant noise sources. For intermittent sound, the one-second rms maximum level (Lmax) shall be used. For constant sound, the average level (Leq) shall be used.

A. Residential Property Noise Limits.

1. No person shall produce, suffer or allow to be produced by any machine, animal or device, or by any other means, a noise level greater than the following, when measured on any residential property:

a. Daytime:

60 dBA intermittent

 

50 dBA constant

b. Nighttime:

50 dBA intermittent

 

40 dBA constant

2. No person shall produce, suffer or allow to be produced by any machine, animal, or device, or by any other means, a noise level greater than the following, when measured on any mixed use property:

a. Daytime:

65 dBA intermittent

 

55 dBA constant

b. Nighttime:

55 dBA intermittent

 

45 dBA constant

B. Commercial Property Noise Limits. No person shall produce, suffer or allow to be produced by any machine, animal, or device, or by any other means, a noise level greater than 65 dBA intermittent or 55 dBA constant, when measured on any commercial property, unless specifically authorized by a use permit.

C. Public Property Noise Limits. No person shall produce, suffer or allow to be produced by any machine, animal or device, or by any other means, a noise level, when measured on any public property, that is greater than the most restrictive noise standard applicable under this chapter to any private property adjoining the receiving public property.

 

Table 1 – General Noise Limits

Property Type or Zone

Daytime Limits

Nighttime Limits

Residential

60 dBA Intermittent

50 dBA Intermittent

50 dBA Constant

40 dBA Constant

Commercial/Mixed Use

65 dBA Intermittent

55 dBA Constant

65 dBA Intermittent

55 dBA Constant

Public Property

Most restrictive noise limit applicable to adjoining private property

(Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.050 Standard exceptions to general noise limits.

The following standard exceptions to the provisions of SMC 9.56.040 shall be allowed as of right, to the extent and during the hours specified. A summary of the standard exceptions provided in this section is set forth in Table 2.

A. Construction. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (B) of this section, or by the planning commission or city council as part of the development review for the project, on any construction project on property within the city, construction, alteration, demolition, maintenance of construction equipment, deliveries of materials or equipment, or repair activities otherwise allowed under applicable law shall be allowed as follows: (1) between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, (2) between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, and (3) between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays; however, the noise level at any point outside of the property plane of the project shall not exceed 90 dBA.

For any construction project involving the construction of two or more new residences within the city, or when required by the planning commission or city council as part of their development review for the property, the property owner or occupant shall post a sign at all entrances to the construction site upon commencement of construction for the purpose of informing all contractors and subcontractors, their employees, agents, materialmen and all other persons at the construction site of the basic requirements of this chapter.

1. Said sign(s) shall be posted in a conspicuous place visible from the public right-of-way near the entrance to the job site, at least five feet above ground level, and shall be of a white background, with legible black lettering, which lettering shall be a minimum of one and one-half inches in height.

2. Said sign shall read as follows (or as consistent with other hours approved by the planning commission or city council):

CONSTRUCTION HOURS

(includes any and all deliveries)

MONDAY – FRIDAY

8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

SATURDAY

9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

SUNDAY/CITY-DESIGNATED HOLIDAYS

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

B. Residential Power Equipment. The operation of residential power equipment other than leaf blowers shall be allowed as follows: (1) between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, (2) between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, and (3) between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. The decibel level generated by residential power equipment, including leaf blowers, shall not exceed 70 dBA measured from 50 feet of the noise source.

C. Leaf Blowers. The operation of leaf blowers shall be governed by Chapter 9.60 SMC.

D. Occasional outdoor gatherings, public dances, shows, and sporting or entertainment events, provided such events are conducted pursuant to a permit or license issued by the city relative to the staging of such events.

E. Within the Winery zoning district, the operation of mechanical devices, apparatus, equipment, and vehicles related to the annual grape crush, within the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

F. The cleaning and maintenance of parking areas and sidewalks within the Commercial, Gateway Commercial and Mixed Use zones, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

G. Training activities conducted by emergency services personnel between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

 

Table 2 – Standard Exceptions to General Noise Limits

Type of Activity

Maximum Noise Level

Days/Hours Permitted

Construction and operation of residential power equipment (except for leaf blowers)

70 dBA, as measured from 50 feet of the noise source

Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, city-designated holidays: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Leaf blowers

70 dBA, as measured from 50 feet of the noise source

In all areas of the city, gas-powered leaf blowers are prohibited.

In all areas of the city, electrically-powered leaf blowers are prohibited except from Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on city-designated holidays.

Outdoor events (with permit or license)

As restricted by permit

As restricted by permit

Crush activities

N.A.

Monday – Sunday: 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Maintenance and cleaning within Commercial and Mixed Use zones

N.A.

Monday – Friday: 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Training activities conducted by emergency services personnel

N.A.

Monday – Friday: 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

(Ord. 01-2016 §§ 2, 4, 2016; Ord. 02-2011 §§ 1(C) – (F), 2011; Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.060 Exceptions allowed with permit.

A. In addition to the standard exceptions permitted pursuant to SMC 9.56.050, the city planner or his designee may grant a permit allowing an exception from any or all provisions of this chapter where the applicant can show that a diligent investigation of available noise abatement techniques indicates that compliance with the requirements of this chapter would be impractical or unreasonable. Any such permit shall be issued with appropriate conditions to minimize the public detriment caused by the permitted exceptions. Any such permit shall be of such duration as approved by the city planner or his designee, up to a maximum period of three months, but shall be renewable upon a showing of good cause, and shall be conditioned by a schedule for compliance and details of methods thereof in appropriate cases. In the discretion of the city planner or his designee, an exception permit may be issued and reissued for successive short periods of time in order to allow monitoring of the adverse noise impacts of the excepted activity, and additional conditions may be imposed upon reissuance of the permit, if the city planner or his designee determines that such additional conditions are necessary to mitigate noise impacts from the excepted activity to a level he deems acceptable under all the circumstances.

B. Any application for an exception permit under this section shall be accompanied by a fee to be set by resolution of the city council.

C. Any person aggrieved with the decision of the city planner or his designee may appeal to the city council, by writing filed with the city clerk within 10 business days after the date of such decision, however, such appeal shall not stay the effective date of the permit. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.070 Exemptions.

The following shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

A. Warning devices which are required by law to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community;

B. Emergency vehicle responses and all necessary equipment utilized for the purpose of responding to an emergency, or necessary to restore, preserve, protect or save lives or property from imminent danger of loss or harm;

C. Aviation, railroad, and public transit operations;

D. The operation of any municipal or public utility vehicles;

E. Uses established through any applicable discretionary review process containing specific noise conditions of approval and/or mitigation measures;

F. Work on capital improvements or repairs and maintenance on public property by employees or contractors of the city;

G. The maintenance of public parks and playing fields, including school grounds;

H. Vehicle noise subject to regulation under the California Vehicle Code;

I. Emergency repair work performed by, or at the request of, a property owner on his or her private property, where the delay required to obtain an exception permit under this chapter would result in substantial damage, personal injuries, or property loss to the owner; provided, that such emergency work shall be subject to such reasonable conditions as may be imposed by authorized city employees to mitigate the noise level of the activity;

J. Athletic and recreational events and other activities performed on public parks, property owned by the school district, and other properties zoned as “Public”;

K. Refuse collection conducted by the city’s franchised waste collection service. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.080 Other limitations.

A. Limitations on the Idling of Commercial Vehicles. When parked within 100 feet of a residential zoning district, a driver of a commercial vehicle shall not cause or allow an engine to idle for more than five consecutive minutes, except as necessary for the loading or unloading of cargo within a period not to exceed 30 minutes.

B. Public Rights-of-Way. The direction of any amplified, transmitted or recorded sound toward a public right-of-way from a business adjacent to such right-of-way is prohibited. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.090 Additional restrictions.

Additional restrictions on noise, including limits on hours of operation, noise-making activities, and maximum decibel levels, may be imposed by the planning commission or the city council through approval of a use permit or tentative map. Any such restrictions shall be fully enforceable as a provision of this chapter. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).

9.56.095 Signage requirements for landscape contractor vehicles.

When in service, vehicles used for commercial landscape maintenance shall be identified as such by a sign affixed to the vehicle indicating the name and telephone number of the contracting service, with a minimum letter height of one inch. (Ord. 02-2011 § 1(G), 2011).

9.56.100 Violations, penalties.

Any violation of this chapter may be enforced either as an infraction or as a misdemeanor, or by any remedy available to the city under this code, or under state law. (Ord. 03-2006 § 2, 2006).