Recent complaints about excessive noise and unruly parties in town has sparked a movement of sorts in Moraga, with some residents pressing for more precise definitions of noise and party violations – and new guidelines on what to do when they occur.
The thorny, dual issues come up for discussion at this Wednesday’s council meeting. Several residents had approached the council earlier to seek relief from a noisy, party house on Wandel Drive and a handful of other locations about town mentioned as recidivist party houses. The homes are largely rentals and in several cases occupied by students. They have been, their neighbors said, difficult to live with.
A student resident of the home in question who attended the meeting said the occupants would work to establish better communication with their neighbors in future and police said they would work to be more responsive to citizen complaints.
The council adopted its current unruly party ordinance several years ago, after Thune Avenue neighbors complained about students renting a row of houses on their street. The penalty for violations was raised to $1,000 if the same person was cited twice over a 180-day period – with property owners liable for that fine.
Along with possible modifications to the unruly party ordinance, civic leaders are also mulling ways to more precisely define what noise level needs to be surpassed in order to constitute a violation, and how to better handle reported noise violations in future.
Still in the preliminary stages, talks about the party and noise ordinance have included mention of issuing sound meters for officers to better verify when violations occur and establishing a mean decibel level for the town by which future violations could be measured.
That magic number is likely to be the subject of debate, with proponents of a strengthened ordinance calling for a reasonable number by which to set the town’s noise standard – possibly in the 40 to 45 dB range – with a suggested 60 dB threshold drawing fire as above the standard approved by the City of Los Angeles.
Residents in favor of a noise ordinance pointed out that a suggested 60 dB limitation is higher than the 40 to 45 dB limit in place for the city of Los Angeles and the 50 dB (before 10 p.m., 45 dB after 10 p.m.) currently in use in Lafayette.
So this 40 to 60 dB limit being proposed is for loud parties like the college kids on Ascot blowing off steam on the weekend. Fine. I understand that. We have all heard loud parties. Now this is what I do not understand: The Moraga Town council giving such preference to St. Mary’s College that the standard for them is 55 dB in response to neighbors complaints. But St. Mary’s activities are several nights a week AND on weekends. I believe there is a big difference between an occasional loud party and continuous night after night noise. And that limit is just for 9pm to 10pm, earlier it is higher.
Need to find a way to punish the property owners so they stop renting to rowdy students.
Too long in coming. I think you are going to find conflict between those seeking the peace and those who feel loud music or Public Address conveys excitement and draws customers. So one group loses over the preferences of another. This will come to a head – trust me.