Chapter 8.08


8.08.010    Purpose.

8.08.020    Definitions.

8.08.030    Noise disturbance described.

8.08.040    Public disturbance noise.

8.08.045    Sound level measurement requirements.

8.08.050    Exceptions from prohibitions.

8.08.060    Content of sound.

8.08.070    Violation – Penalty.

8.08.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to minimize the exposure of citizens to the harmful physiological and psychological effects of excessive noise. The intent of the city council is to control the level of noise pollution in a manner which promotes commerce, the use, value, and enjoyment of property, sleep and repose, and the quality of the environment by establishing maximum environmental noise levels applicable within designated areas or zones of the city, and to adopt appropriate exemptions to the provisions of this chapter to allow for the functioning of commercial business and the operation of construction and emergency equipment, and to declare certain noise-producing activities to be noise disturbances.

(Ord. O2016-002, Added, 02/16/2016)

8.08.020 Definitions.

All terminology used in this chapter which is not defined below shall be interpreted in conformance with the most recent definitions used by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or its successor body, where applicable.

A.    “dBA” means the sound pressure level in decibels measured using the “A” weighting network on a sound level meter. The sound pressure level, in decibels, of a sound is twenty times the logarithm to the base ten of the ratio of pressure of the sound to a reference pressure of twenty micropascals.

B.    “EDNA” means the environmental designation for noise abatement, being an area or zone (environment) within which maximum permissible noise levels are established.

C.    “Noise disturbance” means any sound which annoys, disturbs, or perturbs reasonable persons with normal sensitivities, or any sound which unreasonably injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, hearing, peace, or safety of persons or animals.

D.    “Person responsible for the violation” means any person who is required by the applicable regulation to comply therewith, or who commits any act or omission which is a violation or causes or permits a violation to occur or remain upon property in the city, and includes but is not limited to owner(s), lessor(s), tenant(s), or other person(s) entitled to control, use and/or occupy property where a violation occurs.

E.    “Sound amplification equipment” means any machine or device for the amplification of the human voice, music or any other noise or sound.

F.    “Sound level” means a weighted sound pressure level measured by the use of a sound level meter using an A-weighted network and reported as decibels, dBA.

G.    “Sound level meter” means a device which measures sound pressure levels and conforms to Type I, S1A, Type II or S2A, as specified in the American National Standards Institute Specification Section 1.4 (1971) as now exists or as hereafter amended or modified.

H.    “Weekday” means any day Monday through Friday which is not a legal holiday.

I.    “Weekend” means Saturday, Sunday and any legal holiday.

(Ord. O2019-017, Amended, 03/19/2019; Ord. O2016-002, Added, 02/16/2016)

8.08.030 Noise disturbance described.

The following intentional acts, or acts taking place upon property under his or her dominion and control, among others, are declared to be loud, disturbing and unnecessary noises in violation of this chapter:

A.    The repeating or prolonged sounding of any horn or signaling device on any automobile, motorcycle, transit vehicle or other vehicle on any public street or public place of the city, except as a necessary warning of danger to person or property; the creation by means of any such signaling device of any unreasonably loud or harsh sound; and the sounding of any such device for an unnecessary and unreasonable period of time;

B.    The use of any automobile, motorcycle, transit vehicle, or other vehicle, or engine, either stationary or moving, or any instrument, device or thing so out of repair, so loaded, or in such manner as to create loud and unnecessary grating, squealing, grinding, rattling or other noise;

C.    Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on the public streets, particularly between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. or at any time and place so as to disturb the quiet, comfort and repose of any person in any hospital, rest home, dwelling, hotel, motel or other type of residence;

D.    The keeping in any building or upon any premises, of any bird, animal or fowl which by frequent or long continued noise shall disturb the comfort and repose of any person in the vicinity;

E.    The sounding of any whistle, siren or bell, receiving its power from whatever source, except to give notice of the time to begin or stop work or as a warning of fire or danger or upon request of proper city authorities;

F.    To discharge into the open air the exhaust of any steam engine, stationary internal combustion engine or motor vehicle, except through a muffler or other device which will effectively reduce loud or explosive noises therefrom;

G.    Any construction activity, including excavation and land clearing work, or erection, demolition, alteration, repair, or relocation of any building or structure, which uses powered equipment such as backhoes, trucks, tractors, earth moving equipment, compressors, motorized or power hand tools, or equipment of a similar nature at any location which produces noise clearly audible from another location in a residential district or at a dwelling in any district, other than between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, or between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends. The community development department may, in writing, grant exceptions to these provisions when the work is of urgent necessity in the interest of public safety and convenience;

H.    The creation of any unreasonable or excessive noise near any school, institute of learning, church or court, while the same are in session, or near any hospital, or other institution reserved for the sick, feeble or aged, provided signs are displayed in such vicinities indicating such institution is nearby;

I.    The creation of loud and excessive noises in connection with loading or unloading any vehicle, or the opening or destruction of bales, boxes and containers;

J.    The use of any drum, loudspeaker, or other instrument or device for the purpose of attracting attention by creation of noise, to any performance, show, sale or display of merchandise;

K.    The use of mechanical loudspeakers or amplifiers on moving or standing vehicles for advertising purposes;

L.    The use, operation, or permitting to be used, played or operated any radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such manner as to unreasonably disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants or at any time with louder volume than is necessary for convenient hearing for the person or persons who are in the room, vehicle or chamber in which such machine or device is operated and who are voluntary listeners thereto. The operation of any such set, instrument, phonograph, machine or device in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of fifty feet from the building, structure or vehicle in which it is located shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section;

M.    The use of unreasonably loud fireworks in violation of TMC Chapter 8.30;

N.    The use of hand or power tools, blowers or machinery which results in unreasonably loud and disturbing noises and is clearly audible at a distance of fifty feet from the location where such tools or machinery are operated; provided however, that this section shall not apply to uses of motorized lawnmowers, edge trimmers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, or similar powered yard maintenance equipment, used in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays or between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends;

O.    The use of any loudspeaker, amplifier or other similar device which shall project sound above a normal level beyond the property lines of the premises upon which it is being used without first obtaining a permit from the city. In issuing a permit, the city may impose such restrictions on time, area, and volume as are necessary to preserve the public peace and safety;

P.    Loud or raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds including, but not limited to, sounds created by use of a musical instrument, or other device capable of producing sound when struck by an object, a whistle, or a sound amplifier or other device capable of producing, amplifying, or reproducing sound.

(Ord. O2019-017, Amended, 03/19/2019; Ord. O2016-002, Amended, 02/16/2016; Ord. O2011-002, Amended, 03/01/2011; Ord. O96-027, Amended, 10/15/1996; Ord. O95-018, Amended, 04/16/1996; Ord. 616, Added, 04/18/1972)

8.08.040 Public disturbance noise.

A.    It is unlawful for any person to cause or permit any sound or noise as defined in TMC 8.08.030 to intrude into the property of another person which sound or noise exceeds the maximum permissible noise levels set forth below in this section. For purposes of this chapter, and in compliance with Chapter 173-60 WAC, the properties within the city of Tumwater are as follows:

1.    Residential zones – Class A EDNA.

2.    Commercial zones – Class B EDNA.

3.    Industrial zones – Class C EDNA.

B.    1. The sound and noise limitations established herein are as set forth in the following table after any applicable adjustments provided herein are applied:

Property Sound or EDNA of Noise Source

EDNA of receiving property

7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Class A

Class B

Class C

Class A

55 dBA

57 dBA

60 dBA

Class B

57 dBA

60 dBA

65 dBA

Class C

60 dBA

65 dBA

70 dBA

2.    Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the noise limitations of the foregoing table shall be reduced by ten dBA for receiving property within Class A EDNAs.

3.    At any hour of the day or night the applicable noise limitations in subsection (B)(1) of this section may be exceeded at the sound source by no more than:

a.    Five dBA for a total of fifteen minutes in any one-hour period; or

b.    Ten dBA for a total of five minutes in any one-hour period; or

c.    Fifteen dBA for a total of one and one-half minutes in any one-hour period.

For purposes of this chapter, enforcement shall be undertaken by a person with city delegated authority with respect to violations. For enforcement purposes, each day, defined as the twenty-four-hour period beginning at 12:01 a.m., in which violation of the public disturbance noise regulations in this chapter occurs, shall constitute a separate violation.

(Ord. O2019-017, Amended, 03/19/2019; Ord. O2016-002, Added, 02/16/2016)

8.08.045 Sound level measurement requirements.

For purposes of this chapter, sound measurements shall be taken at a minimum distance of twenty-five feet from the sound source and shall be conducted in accordance with sound level measurement procedures provided by the state of Washington, Department of Ecology, Chapter 173-60 WAC.

(Ord. O2016-002, Added, 02/16/2016)

8.08.050 Exceptions from prohibitions.

None of the terms or prohibitions of this chapter shall apply or be enforced against:

A.    Any vehicle of the city while engaged in necessary public business;

B.    Excavations or repairs of bridges, streets or highways by or on behalf of the city, Thurston County, or state during the night season when the public welfare and convenience render it impossible to perform such work during the day;

C.    The reasonable use of amplifiers or loudspeakers in the course of public addresses or public events at reasonable times and reasonable hours; provided, that no amplifier or loudspeaker shall be used in any area of the city except from 12:00 noon through 10:30 p.m., and that such public addresses by use of loudspeakers or amplifier shall not be used for more than three hours of continuous operation in any one location.

D.    Sound created by emergency equipment and emergency work necessary in the interests of law enforcement or of the health, safety or welfare of the community or individuals of the community, or to restore property to a safe condition following a public calamity.

E.    Sounds originating from officially sanctioned parades and other public events, including officially sanctioned fireworks displays.

F.    Sounds, including sounds created by sound amplification equipment, emanating from any event or activity for which a special use permit has been issued by the city in which case the provisions of the special use permit shall control. The city shall retain the authority to approve with conditions or deny special use permits at its sole discretion.

G.    Sounds created by construction and emanating from construction sites are exempt from the provisions of TMC 8.08.040 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends. Approval of expanded exempt hours may be authorized in writing by the community development department when the work is of urgent necessity in the interest of public safety and convenience.

(Ord. O2018-007, Amended, 10/16/2018; Ord. O2016-002, Amended, 02/16/2016; Ord. 891, Amended, 09/02/1980; Ord. 616, Added, 04/18/1972)

8.08.060 Content of sound.

The content of the sound will not be considered in determining a violation of this chapter.

(Ord. O2016-002, Added, 02/16/2016)

8.08.070 Violation – Penalty.

A.    Violations. Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter is declared to be unlawful.

B.    Civil Noise Infraction. Any violation of the provisions of TMC 8.08.030 is a civil noise infraction subject to the civil remedies and the civil penalties authorized in TMC 1.10.120 and is considered a class 3 civil infraction. A person who continues to be in violation of TMC 8.08.030 after receiving a notice of infraction or who again violates this chapter within twenty-four hours after receiving a notice of infraction shall be subject to double the fine for every subsequent violation within the twenty-four-hour period.

C.    Criminal Violations. Any violation of the provisions of TMC 8.08.040 is a misdemeanor.

(Ord. O2016-002, Amended, 02/16/2016; Ord. O2011-007, Amended, 07/19/2011; Ord. 616, Added, 04/18/1972)