Chapter 11.34


11.34.010    Purpose and intent.

11.34.020    Applicability and exemptions.

11.34.030    Nuisance finding.

11.34.040    Terminology.

11.34.050    Program review responsibility.

11.34.060    Noise control officer (NCO).

11.34.070    Contracts and products.

11.34.080    Maximum sound levels by noise zone.

11.34.090    Noise activity standards.

11.34.100    Violations and enforcement.

11.34.110    Noise variance.

11.34.120    Appeals.

11.34.010 Purpose and intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish standards and policies to control unnecessary, excessive, and annoying noise and vibrations in the city of South Gate. It is the policy of the city to foster a quiet atmosphere for residential neighborhoods, and to implement programs aimed at reducing noise in all areas.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.020 Applicability and exemptions.

A.    Applicability. The provisions of this chapter shall be applicable to noise generated in any zone, subject to the established standards and thresholds herein.

B.    Exemptions. The following activities shall be exempted from the provisions of this chapter:

1.    Alerting people to danger or emergencies, or sound related to the performance of emergency work.

2.    Public safety or self-defense warning devices or alert systems.

3.    Public and private playground and school ground activities, including athletic and school entertainment events.

4.    Bells, chimes, or carillons while being used in conjunction with religious services.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.030 Nuisance finding.

Certain noise levels and vibrations are detrimental to the public health, welfare, and safety, and are contrary to the public interest. Therefore, creating, maintaining, or causing, or allowing to be created, maintained, or caused, any noise or vibration in excess of the noise control program of this chapter is a public nuisance and shall be punishable as such.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.040 Terminology.

All terminology used in this chapter is defined in Chapter 11.60, Definitions. In all cases, terminology shall have the same meaning as defined by applicable publications of the American National Standards Institute or its successor body.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.050 Program review responsibility.

A.    Universal Enforcement. The purpose and intent of this chapter shall be upheld in all project and application review, and decisions by all departments shall, to the fullest extent, be consistent with the regulations in this chapter. All departments shall cooperate with the noise control officer (NCO) to the fullest extent in compliance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

B.    Project Approval. All projects shall be reviewed for consistency with this chapter; the NCO shall be consulted prior to any project approval.

C.    Right of Review. The NCO has the right to review any project if nonconformance with this chapter is a possible consequence of a project’s approval, and may request a department to review and report on the advisability of adding or modifying conditions of approval in order to mitigate or eliminate such nonconformance.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.060 Noise control officer (NCO).

The NCO or designee shall be in charge of administering the noise control program.

A.    Duties. The NCO shall have the following duties related to the implementation and enforcement of this chapter and for the general purpose of noise abatement and control:

1.    Delegate appropriate functions to personnel and to other departments, subject to the approval of the chief administrative officer.

2.    Investigate and pursue violations of this chapter.

3.    Conduct, or cause to be conducted, studies, research, and monitoring related to noise, including joint cooperative investigation with public or private agencies, and make application for and accept grants.

4.    Conduct programs of public education regarding noise abatement.

5.    Provide for training of field inspectors and other technical personnel concerned with noise abatement in conformance with standards for technical qualifications, as established by the State Office of Noise Control.

6.    Coordination and Cooperation.

i.    Coordinate the noise control activities of all municipal departments.

ii.    Cooperate, where practicable, with all appropriate state and federal agencies.

iii.    Cooperate, where practicable, with appropriate county and municipal agencies.

iv.    Advise on the availability of low-noise-emissions products for replacement or retrofit of existing or planned city-owned or operated equipment.

v.    Recommend to the city council the approval of contracts for the provision of technical and enforcement services.

vi.    Consult with other appropriate agencies regarding project standards or revisions, consistent with this chapter.

7.    Project Review Responsibility. The following shall be done by the NCO for all noise-sensitive or noise-generating public and private projects:

i.    Review for compliance with the intent and provisions of this chapter;

ii.    Recommend sound analysis that identifies existing and projected noise sources and associated sound levels;

iii.    Recommend usage of adequate measures to avoid violation of any provisions of this chapter;

iv.    Inspect property and/or project documentation for compliance, subject to presentation of proper credentials and owner/occupant permission;

v.    Complete noise inspections based on probable-cause violation documentation, subject to obtaining a search warrant when permission is refused or cannot be obtained;

vi.    Develop and recommend to the city council or other city agency provisions regulating the use and operation of any product, including the description of maximum sound levels, but not in such a manner as to conflict with federal or state new product regulations;

vii.    Prepare recommendations to be approved by the city council for the designation and enforcement of noise-sensitive activities in designated noise-sensitive zones;

viii.    Prepare recommendations based on noise survey data and analytical studies, to be approved by the city council, for the designation of zones of similar ambient environmental noise within regions of generally consistent land use; zones shall be identified in terms of their day and nighttime ambient noise levels by the classifications given in Section 11.34.080, Maximum sound levels by noise zone;

ix.    Review the noise impact of the zoning change by identifying existing and projected noise sources and the associated sound levels, and require usage of adequate measures on noise sources identified in Section 11.34.080, Maximum sound levels by noise zone; and

x.    Upon receipt of a complaint from a citizen, the NCO, equipped with sound level measurement equipment outlined in Section 11.34.080(E), Unit of Measure, shall investigate the complaint.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.070 Contracts and products.

A.    Contracts. All city contracts, written agreements, purchase orders, and instruments that commit expenditure of funds shall include provisions requiring all equipment or activities that are subject to this chapter be operated, constructed, conducted, and/or manufactured in compliance with the noise standards of this chapter.

B.    Products. Federally certified low-noise-emissions products shall be used in preference to any other product where economically feasible.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.080 Maximum sound levels by noise zone.

A.    Noise Zone Standards. Table 11.34-1, Noise Zone Standards, establishes noise-level standards and temporary maximum standards applicable to land use categories by noise zone. No person shall make, cause, or allow noise that exceeds the standards of Table 11.34-1, inclusive of ambient noise. These standards are inclusive of all noise sources, including ambient noise, animals, equipment, firearms, people gatherings or parties, tools, vehicles, or other noise source resulting in temporary or sustained noise levels in excess of the standards of Table 11.34-1 and Table 11.34-2, Permitted Temporary Noise Level Increase.


Table 11.34-1 Noise Zone Standards 

Noise Zone

Land Use Category

Noise Standards


Time Period


Noise-Sensitive Area

45 dBA



Residential Properties (in any zone)

50 dBA

7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

40 dBA

10 p.m. to 7 a.m.


Commercial Properties

55 dBA



Industrial Properties

65 dBA


This table is consistent with Table N-5 of the South Gate general plan noise element.

dBA = A-weighted decibel Leq standard.

B.    Noise-Sensitive Zones. Creating or causing the creation of any noise disturbance within any noise-sensitive zone; provided, that conspicuous signs are displayed indicating the presence of the zone; shall be prohibited.

1.    Noise-sensitive zones shall be indicated by the display of conspicuous signs in at least three separate locations within six hundred feet of the institution or facility.

C.    Permitted Temporary Increase. Table 11.34-2 establishes the maximum temporary noise level increases permitted in any noise zone based on the duration of noise.


Table 11.34-2 Permitted Temporary Noise Level Increase 

Permitted Maximum Increase

Noise Duration

+ 5 dBA

30 mins. per hour

+ 10 dBA

15 mins. per hour

+ 12 dBA

10 mins. per hour

+ 15 dBA

5 mins. per hour

+ 20 dBA

2 mins. per hour

dBA = A-weighted decibel Leq standard.

mins. = minutes.

D.    Measurement of Noise. All noise standards shall be based on the actual measured ambient noise level, as measured at the closest adjoining property line between habitable parcels or at the nearest public right-of-way.

E.    Unit of Measure. The unit of measure shall be designated as an A-weighted decibel (dBA), equivalent continuous sound level (Leq) standard. Noise shall be measured with a sound level meter that meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (Section S1.4-1979, Type 1 or Type 2). A calibration check shall be made of the instrument at the time any noise measure is made.

F.    Location of Measure.

1.    Exterior Noise. Noise levels shall be measured in decibels at the property line of the receptor property, and at least four feet above the ground and ten feet from the nearest structure or wall, where possible.

2.    Interior Noise. Interior noise shall be measured within the building or structure, and at least four feet from any wall, ceiling, or floor nearest the noise source.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.090 Noise activity standards.

Noise generated by the following acts is considered to be in violation of the noise standards of this chapter.

A.    Street Sales. Offering, selling, or advertising anything by shouting, outcry, playing music, or other noise to attract attention within any residential, commercial, or noise-sensitive zone of the city, excluding such activities at licensed sporting events, parades, fairs, circuses, or other similar, licensed public entertainment events.

B.    Vibration. Vibration produced from the operation of any device or equipment shall not exceed a motion velocity of 0.01 inches per second over a range of one to one hundred Hertz.

C.    Powered Model Vehicles. Operating of powered model vehicles within a residential or noise-sensitive zone is prohibited between the hours of ten p.m. and seven a.m.

D.    Stationary Nonemergency Signaling Devices. Sounding of any electronically amplified signal intended primarily for nonemergency purposes shall be limited to ten consecutive seconds in any hourly period; this standard shall not apply to religious worship uses.

E.    Emergency Signaling Devices. The intentional sounding of any outdoor emergency signaling device by public or private agencies shall be limited to emergency purposes only, except under the following conditions. Testing shall be limited to the following:

1.    Testing between seven a.m. and ten p.m., and shall not exceed sixty seconds.

2.    A maximum once-per-month testing of the complete emergency signaling system.

F.    Personal Alarm Devices. Sounding of any exterior burglar, fire, or automotive burglar alarm shall not exceed duration of thirty minutes and shall be limited to emergency usage.

G.    Refuse Collection Vehicles. Refuse collection vehicles shall not exceed eighty-six dBA when measured at fifty feet from any point on the vehicle, and shall be limited to operating between six a.m. and ten p.m. within five hundred feet of a residential or noise-sensitive zone.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.100 Violations and enforcement.

The NCO shall have primary responsibility, with such assistance of the police department as may be necessary or desirable, for the enforcement of this chapter. The NCO may seek voluntary compliance by way of warning, notice, or informational materials.

A.    Violations. Written notice shall be provided to the responsible party upon an initial violation of the provisions of this chapter. Notice shall specify the time frame for violation correction, if applicable, or time frame for permit/variance application submittal. No further action shall be taken where violations are voluntarily remedied prior to or after written violation notice.

B.    Misdemeanor. Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided for in Chapter 11.56, Enforcement. Each day that such violation is committed or permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punishable as such.

C.    Party Noise Violations.

1.    Action may be taken as necessary to abate any gathering or party of two or more people occurring on private property that violates the noise thresholds of this chapter, or is otherwise a threat to the public peace, health, safety, or welfare due to the magnitude of the crowd, noise, traffic, disturbance or unruly behavior, and/or destruction of property generated by the gathering.

2.    Notice of violation, orally and in writing, shall be provided to the responsible party, property owner, occupant, or legal guardian, who shall be held liable for the cost of providing noise enforcement services.

3.    If the gathering is not voluntarily dispersed and additional city personnel and/or law enforcement involvement is required to disperse the nuisance, the responsible party or parties shall be jointly and severally liable for the following costs incurred by the city:

i.    The actual cost to the city for law enforcement services, excluding the initial response provided by the NCO or police officer to abate any party noise violations.

ii.    Damage to public property resulting from such law enforcement response.

iii.    Injuries to any NCO or law enforcement personnel involved in such law enforcement response.

D.    Billing and Collection. The police department or NCO shall calculate all costs and shall advise the director of finance. The responsible party or parties shall be billed by the director of finance following receipt of the total cost. Payment shall be due and payable within fifteen days of the billing date. If the amount due is not paid, the city may collect the debt, as well as any fees and costs incurred in its collection, pursuant to all applicable provisions of the law.

E.    General Prohibition. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or of this code, and in addition thereto, it shall be unlawful for any person to willfully make, generate or continue, or cause to be made, generated or continued, any loud noise from any source that unreasonably disturbs the peace and quiet of two or more persons of normal sensitiveness who reside or work in the area.

1.    The factors which shall be considered in determining whether a violation of the provisions of this section exists shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

i.    The volume of the noise;

ii.    The intensity of the noise;

iii.    Whether the nature of the noise is usual or unusual;

iv.    Whether the origin of the noise is natural or unnatural;

v.    The volume and intensity of the background noise, if any;

vi.    The proximity of the noise to residential sleeping facilities;

vii.    The zoning classification of the area from which the noise emanates;

viii.    The density of inhabitation of the area from which the noise emanates;

ix.    The time of day or night the noise occurs;

x.    The duration of the noise;

xi.    Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant;

xii.    Whether the noise is produced by commercial or noncommercial activity;

xiii.    Whether the noise is a consequence or expected result of an otherwise lawful use.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.110 Noise variance.

The owner or operator of a noise source that violates any of the provisions of this chapter may file a variance application, consistent with the procedures of Chapter 11.51, Permits and Procedures.

A variance application shall detail the approved method of achieving maximum compliance and a time schedule for its accomplishment. In its determinations, the NCO shall consider the following:

1.    The magnitude of nuisance caused by the offensive noise.

2.    The uses of property within the area of impingement by the noise.

3.    The time factors related to study, design, financing, and construction of remedial work.

4.    The economic factors related to age and useful life of the equipment.

5.    The general public interest, welfare, and safety.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)

11.34.120 Appeals.

Appeals of a planning commission decision regarding this chapter may be made within ten working days of such decisions. Appeals may be made to the city council by filing a notice of appeal with the city clerk. Appeal and noticing procedures shall proceed consistent with Chapter 11.51, Permits and Procedures.

(Ord. 2323 § 1 Exh. A (part), 4-28-15)