Home Letter To The Editor Moragan Asks (Quietly) Why They Can’t Get A Handle On Noise At...

Moragan Asks (Quietly) Why They Can’t Get A Handle On Noise At SMC



Well, here we are again. 

I just want to remind you that the Town Council will make decisions tonight (7pm at JM 1st item on the agenda) on the lights, hours of use and noise at the SMC intramural sports field.  The fix is in the deal is nearly done. I have almost no hope that the council will do very much to ensure the new design (really the original design) will solve all the concerns or even many of them. Even so there are good reasons for going and sending in you comments. 

The proposed conditions to deal with noise from the field are mostly eyewash. In fact I have suggested that some of them should just be deleted.

The proposed noise limits will not work well or at all for many homes. The levels are too high for residential neighborhoods in general and certainly for those of us living in the SMC amphitheater.

The proposed process for reducing profanity is both ineffective and possibly illegal. If the words used by some students are unlawful, the Town should use its police powers directly. If the speech is lawful, and we know that is almost any speech these days, then we are better off just leaving the civility issues to the college.

The proposed complaint process will guarantee that you could never submit a “verified” complaint unless at the moment of the loud noise you can summon a cop carrying a calibrated noise meter and the cop measures the noise as excessive and he or she (not you) agrees that the noise is from SMC. If all of that miraculously happens the cop will call the guard shack for you. 

The proposed conditions call for SMC to discipline loud or offensive students if they can find witnesses or get a confession. Good luck with that. The entire process is closed to us and the Town anyway. 

I suggested that the Town just drop those provisions along with others that actually accomplish nothing. For example SMC will use the field and lights 300 days a year. Posting a schedule on line won’t help us. 

There are reasons to turn out though. In this town silence is consent and the idea that the field is for intramural sports only is not protected by the permit conditions. If they go through as written SMC will be able to hold NCAA competition at night, rent out the field for rock concerts or do almost anything they want. 

It is very clear that the council and the staff are actively pushing the SMC agenda and that there is minimal concern for our right to peace and quiet. It will only get worse, based upon proposals already under discussion, but not for public review.

In place of the faulty conditions about noise I propose that the Town should adopt a part of the noise ordinance used in Los Angeles. Our town staff is recommending noise limits that are very high for suburban residential zones. The limits in LA are lower, much lower. Moraga proposes 60dB A at our property lines. Los Angeles has a limit of 55 dBA before 10pm and 45 from 10pm until 7am. The critical difference is that each 6dB increase is perceived as being twice as loud. Crowd noise above 50dB A is understood to be annoying in a suburban residence. Speech at 60dB A disrupts outdoor conversation. 

The council proposes to exempt NCAA whistles from any noise limit. NCAA whistles are extremely loud (up to 127 dB A) and are designed to cu through the noise from thousands of fans and a loud PA system. That is I hope not going to happen here. One company brags that its NCAA whistle is louder than a military rescue whistle and can be heard a mile away. I suggest that much quieter, “1 pea” whistles be used and not exempted. 

Some hear the sports field and some hear the unlighted fields nearer to St. Mary’s Rd. The council decision on the lighted field would set the precedent for handling all noise complaints 

Speak out now and ask the council to adopt the levels used in LA.

I proposed that SMC be required to install automated noise monitoring equipment that can be used to trigger an automatic response to excessive field noise. A lot of argument and delay will be eliminated if the person in charge gets an immediate or series of calls. Also because these devices monitor continuously the data will be on the record and in real time.

Another proposal is that SMC buy appropriate meters and loan them to any resident who has a continuing problem with noise and that we can use these loaner meters to verify a violation. 

SMC’s appeal is going through, no doubt. If you write and if you attend tonight’s meeting we have a chance to improve or mitigate the impacts and to avoid a bad precedent.    

There is still time for an email, direct to the individual council members, ‘rwykle@moraga.ca.us’; ‘mmetcalf@moraga.ca.us’; ‘parth@moraga.ca.us’; ‘tonoda@moraga.ca.us’; ‘dtrotter@bowlesverna.com’ or to mmcinturf@moraga.ca.us  with a request to include your letter in the meeting packet

7pm tonight at JM. First item on the agenda.

Good luck to us all in preserving a quiet Moraga.


David Gow/Moraga

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