Chapter 8.72
MOTOR VEHICLE, PUBLIC DISTURBANCE, AND PUBLIC NUISANCE NOISE

Sections:

8.72.010    Purpose and Findings of Special Conditions.

8.72.020    Definitions.

8.72.030    Sounds Created by Operation of Motor Vehicles.

8.72.040    Mufflers.

8.72.050    Modification of Motor Vehicles.

8.72.060    Tire Noise.

8.72.070    Exhaust System.

8.72.080    Sale of New Motor Vehicles Which Exceed Limits.

8.72.090    Public Disturbance Noises.

8.72.100    Public Nuisance Noises.

8.72.110    Exemptions.

8.72.120    Enforcement.

8.72.130    Violation – Penalty.

8.72.140    Severability.

8.72.010 Purpose and Findings of Special Conditions.

A.    The purpose of this Chapter is to regulate excessive intermittent noises that interfere with the use, value and enjoyment of property and which pose a hazard to the public health, safety and welfare.

B.    This Chapter is not intended to regulate the content of any form of speech or expression.

C.    Findings of Special Conditions. The problem of noise in Pierce County has been observed by the Pierce County Council and County staff and is documented by the complaints received and logged in the Sheriff's Department. On the basis of these observations and complaints, the Pierce County Council finds that special conditions exist within the County which make necessary any and all differences between this Chapter and the regulations adopted by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

(Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994; Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.010)

8.72.020 Definitions.

A.    "dB(A)" means the sound level measured in decibels using the "A" weighing network.

B.    "Motorcycle" means any motor vehicle having a saddle for the use of a rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground; except that farm tractors and vehicles powered by engines of less than five horsepower shall not be included.

C.    "Motor vehicle" means any vehicle which is self-propelled, used primarily for transporting persons or property upon public highways and required to be licensed under RCW 46.16.010.

D.    "Motor vehicle racing event" means any competition between motor vehicles and/or off-highway vehicles under the auspices of a sanctioning body licensed by Pierce County.

E.    "Muffler" means a device consisting of a series of chambers or other mechanical designs for the purpose of receiving exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine and effective in reducing sound resulting therefrom.

F.    "Off-highway vehicle" means any self-propelled motor-driven vehicle not used primarily for transporting persons or property upon public highways not required to be licensed under RCW 46.16.010. "Off-highway vehicle" shall include dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, but shall not include special construction vehicles.

G.    "Person" means any individual, firm, association, partnership, corporation or any other entity, public or private.

H.    "Property boundary" means the surveyed line at ground surface, which separates the real property owned, rented or leased by one or more persons, from that owned, rented or leased by one or more other persons, and its vertical extension.

I.    "Real property" means an interest or aggregate of rights in land which is guaranteed and protected by law. "Real property" includes a leasehold interest.

J.    "Receiving property" means any real property within which sound originating from sources outside the property is received.

K.    "Sound level meter" means a device which measures sound pressure levels and conforms to Type 1, S1A, 2 or S2A, as specified in the American National Standards Institute Specifications.

L.    "Special construction vehicle" means any vehicle which is designed and used primarily for grading, paving, earth moving, and other construction work; and which is not designed or used primarily for the transportation of persons or property on a public highway, and which is only incidentally operated or moved over the highway.

M.    "Warning device" means any device intended to provide warning of potentially hazardous, emergency or illegal activities including but not limited to an alarm system or vehicle back-up signal.

(Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.020)

8.72.030 Sounds Created by Operation of Motor Vehicles.

It is unlawful for any person to operate upon any public road any motor vehicle or any combination of motor vehicles under any conditions of grade, load, acceleration or deceleration in such manner as to exceed the following maximum permissible sound levels for the category of vehicle, as measured at a distance of 50 feet from the center of the land of travel within the speed limits specified by measurement procedures established by the State Commission on Equipment.

TABLE A

Vehicle Category

35 MPH or Less

Over 35 MPH

Motor vehicles over 10,000 pounds GVWR or (GCWR)

86 dB(A)

90 dB(A)

Motorcycles

80 dB(A)

84 dB(A)

All other motor vehicles

76 dB(A)

80 dB(A)

(Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.030(A) (part))

8.72.040 Mufflers.

It is unlawful for any person to operate, or for any owner to permit any person to operate, any motor vehicle or motorcycle upon the public highways which is not equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation. (Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.030(A)(1))

8.72.050 Modification of Motor Vehicles.

It is unlawful for any person to modify or change any part of a motor vehicle or motorcycle, or install any device thereon in any manner that permits sound to be emitted by the motor vehicle or motorcycle in excess of the limits prescribed by this Chapter. It is unlawful for any person to remove or render inoperative, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement, any muffler or sound dissipated device on a motor vehicle or motorcycle. (Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.030(A)(2))

8.72.060 Tire Noise.

It is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle or motorcycle in such manner as to cause or allow to be emitted squealing, screeching or other such sound from the tires in contact with the ground because of rapid acceleration or excessive speed around corners or other such reason; provided, that sound resulting from emergency braking to avoid imminent danger shall be exempt from this Chapter. (Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.030(A)(3))

8.72.070 Exhaust System.

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any motor vehicle upon any public highway if the vehicle exhaust system exceeds the maximum permissible sound levels set forth below for the category of vehicle, as measured at a distance of twenty inches (0.5 meter) from the exhaust outlet under procedures established by the State of Washington in Washington Administrative Code Chapter 173-58-080, "Close Proximity Exhaust System Sound Level Measurement Procedure."

TABLE B

IN USE MOTOR VEHICLE EXHAUST SYSTEM NOISE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS MEASURED AT 20 INCHES (0.5 METER)

Vehicle Category

Maximum Sound Level

Motorcycles

99 dB(A)

Automobiles, light trucks, and all other motor vehicles 10,000 pounds or less

95 dB(A)

(Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.030(A)(4))

8.72.080 Sale of New Motor Vehicles Which Exceed Limits.

It is unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale a new motor vehicle, which produces a maximum sound level exceeding the following maximum permissible sound levels at a distance of 50 feet, by acceleration test procedures established by the State Commission on Equipment and set forth in Washington Administrative Code Chapter 204-56, "Procedures for Measuring Motor Vehicle Sound Levels."

TABLE C

Vehicle Category

Maximum Sound Level

Motorcycles manufactured after 1975

83 dB(A)

Any motor vehicle over 10,000 pounds GVWR manufactured after 1975 and prior to 1978

83 dB(A)

Any motor vehicle over 10,000 pounds GVWR manufactured after 1978

83 dB(A)

All other motor vehicles

80 dB(A)

(Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.030(A)(5))

8.72.090 Public Disturbance Noises.

It is unlawful for any person to cause, or for any person in possession of property to allow to originate from the property, a public disturbance noise. The following sounds are public disturbance noises:

A.    Frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds made by any animal which unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort, and repose of property owners or possessors, except that such animal sounds which are made in animal shelters, commercial kennels, veterinary hospitals, pet shops, or pet kennels, licensed under Title 5 PCC are exempt from this subsection. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Chapter, if the owner or other person having custody of the animal cannot, with reasonable inquiry, be located by the investigating officer or if the animal is a repeated violator of this subsection, the animal shall be impounded subject to redemption in the manner provided by Sections 6.02.070 and/or 6.02.080;

B.    The frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounding of any horn or siren attached to a motor vehicle, except as a warning of danger or as specifically permitted or required by law;

C.    Frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds from starting, operating, repairing, rebuilding, or testing of any motor vehicle, motorcycle, dirt bike, or other off-highway vehicle, or any internal combustion engine, within a rural or residential district, including vacant property adjacent thereto, so as to unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort, and repose of owners or possessors of real property;

D.    The use of a sound amplifier or other device capable of producing or reproducing amplified sound upon public streets for the purpose of commercial advertising or sales or for attracting the attention of the public to any vehicle, structure, or property or the contents therein except as permitted by law, and except that vendors whose sole method of selling is from a moving vehicle shall be exempt from this subsection;

E.    Any loud and raucous sound made within one thousand feet of any school, hospital, sanitarium, nursing or convalescent facility;

F.    Any loud and raucous sound made by use of a musical instrument, whistle, sound amplifier, or other device capable of producing or reproducing sound which emanates frequently, repetitively, or continuously from any building, structure or property, such as sound originating from a band session, tavern operation, or social gathering and which unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort, and repose of owners or possessors of real property in the area affected by such noise;

G.    Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, or singing so as to unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort, and repose of owners or possessors of property in the area affected by such noise;

H.    Public disturbance noise from portable or motor vehicle audio equipment: While in park areas, residential or commercial zones, or any area where residences, schools, human service facilities, or commercial establishments are in obvious proximity to the source of the sound, it is unlawful for any person to negligently cause, make, or allow to be made from audio equipment under such person's control or ownership the following:

1.    Sound from a motor vehicle or vessel sound system, such as a tape player, radio, or compact disc player, which is operated at such a volume that it could be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 50 feet or more from the vehicle or vessel itself;

2.    Sound from audio equipment such as a tape player, radio, or compact disc player, which is operated at such a volume that it could be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 50 feet or more from the source of the sound;

3.    This Section shall not apply to persons operating portable audio equipment within a public park pursuant to an event sanctioned by a responsible authority under valid permit or license.

(Ord. 2005-35s § 1 (part), 2005; Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994; Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.040)

8.72.100 Public Nuisance Noises.

It is unlawful for any person to cause or allow to be emitted a public nuisance noise. A public nuisance noise is any noise which unreasonably annoys, injures, interferes with, or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of three or more persons residing within separate residences in the same community or neighborhood, although the extent of the damage may be unequal. (Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994)

8.72.110 Exemptions.

A.    Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., the following shall be exempt from this Chapter; however, other state and local restrictions may apply:

1.    Sounds originating from residential property as a result of temporary projects for the construction, maintenance, or repair of homes, grounds, and appurtenances;

2.    Sounds created by the discharge of firearms on authorized shooting or firing ranges;

3.    Sounds created by blasting;

4.    Sounds created by aircraft engine testing and maintenance not related to flight operations; provided, that aircraft testing and maintenance shall be conducted at remote sites whenever possible;

5.    Sounds created by the installation or repair of essential utility services;

6.    Sounds created by the discharge of legal fireworks are exempt from this Chapter only during the specific days, times, and in the locations where discharge is allowable pursuant to existing state and local law (e.g., Chapter 5.08 PCC);

7.    Sounds originating from temporary, non-residential construction sites as a result of construction activity are exempt from this Chapter (although they are not similarly exempted from Chapter 8.76);

8.    Sounds originating from forestry activities (although they are not similarly exempted from Chapter 8.76)

B.    The following shall be exempt from this Chapter:

1.    Sounds from electrical substations and existing stationary equipment used in the conveyance of water or wastewater by a utility;

2.    Sounds from existing industrial installations which exceed the standards contained in these regulations and which, over the previous three years, have consistently operated in excess of 15 hours per day as a consequence of process necessity and/or demonstrated routine normal operation. Changes in working hours which would effect exemptions under this regulation require approval of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

3.    Sounds commonly associated with an existing commercial operation which has been approved through a public hearing process and is operating in compliance with any permit conditions;

4.    Sounds commonly associated with an existing commercial operation which was established prior to the effective date of any land use regulation(s) and is thereby non-conforming;

5.    Sounds originating from aircraft in flight and sounds that originate at airports which are directly related to flight operations;

6.    Sounds created by surface carriers engaged in interstate commerce by railroad;

7.    Sounds created by warning devices not operated continuously for more than five minutes (bells, chimes, and carillons);

8.    Sounds created by safety and protective devices where noise suppression could defeat the intent of the device or is not economically feasible;

9.    Sounds created by emergency equipment and work necessary in the interests of law enforcement or for health, safety, or welfare of the community;

10.    Sounds originating from motor vehicle or motorcycle racing events at existing authorized facilities, or being sanctioned by a responsible authority under valid permit or license;

11.    Sounds originating from officially-sanctioned parades and other public events under valid permit or license;

12.    Sounds emitted from petroleum refinery boilers during startup of said boilers; provided, that the startup operation is performed during daytime hours whenever possible;

13.    Sounds created by the discharge of firearms in the course of hunting.

(Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994; Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.050)

8.72.120 Enforcement.

A.    The County Sheriff's Office shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter.

B.    Enforcement On Complaint Only.

1.    For public disturbance noise that is not related to motor vehicles and noise emanating from vehicles, enforcement shall be undertaken only upon receipt of a complaint made by a person who resides, owns or rents property, or is employed in the area affected by the public disturbance noise, except as provided in Section 8.72.090 H.

2.    For public nuisance noise, enforcement shall be undertaken only upon receipt of complaint or complaints of three or more persons residing within separate residences in the same community or neighborhood.

C.    The Sections of this Chapter relating to motor vehicles and vessels and noise emanating from vehicles and vessels, shall be subject to enforcement proceedings with or without a citizen's complaint.

D.    With the exception of motor vehicle noise, noise created by industrial areas is to be regulated by the State of Washington.

E.    In addition to other enforcement provided in Section 8.72.120 A., Animal Control Officers appointed pursuant to RCW 16.52.025 shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter related to animal noises.

(Ord. 2005-35s § 1 (part), 2005; Ord. 98-5 § 1, 1998; Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994; Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.060)

8.72.130 Violation – Penalty.

A.    Any person violating any motor vehicle performance standard of this Chapter, or who shall create, keep, maintain, or allow to occur any noise related to motor vehicle performance standards, as defined herein, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

B.    Any person violating any of the provisions of this Chapter other than motor vehicle performance standards, or who shall create, keep, maintain, or allow to occur any public disturbance noise or public nuisance noise as defined herein, shall be subject to a civil infraction citation as provided for in Chapter 1.16 PCC.

1.    A first violation shall be a Class 3 civil infraction.

2.    A second violation shall be a Class 2 civil infraction.

3.    Any subsequent violations shall be Class 1 civil infractions.

C.    Each act herein prohibited of continuing nature shall be considered a separate offense.

(Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994; Ord. 82-69 (part), 1982; prior Code § 35.14.070)

8.72.140 Severability.

If any provision of this Chapter or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the Chapter or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected. (Ord. 93-89S § 1 (part), 1994; Ord. 89-155 § 16, 1989)