Noise Issues Persist With Little Help From City

Share:

The Vanguard has acquired records dating back to 1994 that show that the neighbors living on Cezanne Court in Davis have had to put up with an inordinant amount of noise from their neighbor, the privately owned, for profit, Montessori Day Care business located at 1811 Renoir Avenue in Davis.

Frankly, the Vanguard should have raised the community’s awareness of this problem long before it has.  However, the event that served as inspiration was Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor’s move to place an exemption to the noise ordinance on the Council Agenda as an item submitted by a councilmember.  The council has agreed to hear it as a full item, but the item was pulled from the last agenda.

On Monday March 16, 2009, the Vanguard ran its initial article on this topic.  We now follow this up with excerpts from the noise report from sound engineering expert, Steve Pettijohn from The Acoustics and Vibration Group in Sacramento, excerpts from letters from neighbors, an astonishing letter from an construction company, and a brief video interview taken at the home of Coralie Munro, one of the neighbors who has put up with noise and litter in her yard for fifteen years.

At the onset we reprint the crux of the complaint from the neighbors.  In a letter to Mark Wood, Chief Building Official and City Manager Bill Emlen, in February of 2008, the neighbors write:

“John Hillis, by his refusal to meet with his neighbors for over 13 years despite our reasonable and courteous requests to meet via City mediation, by his refusal to respond to or even acknowledge the letters written to him by the Murphy, Hackett and Munro families in 2000 and 2001 where we offered, in writing, to build a wall between us, and by his obvious lack of concern for the effect he has and continues to have on his neighbor’s homes and lives, has left us with no choice but to ask for and pursue City support to bring his business into compliance and to be a good neighbor.

The City of Davis has been aware for 14 years that John Hillis’ business operation unreasonably  interferes with the quiet use and enjoyment of neighboring private properties. This has been documented by a combination of letters, photographs, sound readings, and written complaints to the City  from every homeowner (5) of every home (3) on Cezanne Court next to his business since 1994. Most importantly, in 2007, neighbors were required to pay for and provide irrefutable evidence to the City of Davis that John Hillis’ business is in violation of the City of Davis Noise Regulations. This evidence, the sound report of 30 July, 2007, states irrefutably that average noise levels while day care children are outside next to our homes is 70 dB, with levels up to 89/90 dB. This noise enters our homes with all windows closed. Per the noise regulations (24.02.020) signed into law by Mayor Ruth Asmundsen in July, 2005, we have never given John Hillis permission to make noise that can be heard inside our homes with our windows closed, or to generate up to 90 dB daily in our homes and on our properties.”

As the neighbors clarify, this is not about children, several of the neighbors have children of their own. This is an issue of non-stop noise and the failure of the city to take reasonable measure to protect the public.

“This is NOT about the children or “Davis mothers and their children”. This is about how Mr Hillis operates his private, for profit, business. It is about how he has laid out his operation, and how he generates up to 90 dB of daily noise IN NEIGHBOR’S PROPERTIES because of the way he has chosen to configure his play areas — not because of the children. Children play where they are instructed to play. The children’s safety and ability to learn are not dependent on Mr Hillis creating hazards (litter) and unacceptable noise in his neighborhood when there are very doable mitigations available as laid out clearly, in writing, in the Sound Report generated by a professional sound expert.”

SOUND EXPERT REPORT

According to the City of Davis noise ordinance there are three types of noise violations that an individual can be cited for.

“The first is the “general noise prohibition”, which states it is a violation for a noise you create to be heard inside another person’s residence (as long as their windows and doors are closed).”

“Finally it is a violation to produce any noise in excess of 80 decibels.”

Moreover:

“A Noise Permit does NOT allow you to ever produce noise that exceeds 80 decibels.”

The Acoustics and Vibration Group completed their report on July 30, 2007.

Here are some of the key findings with the graphics.

noise_report_1

noise_report_2

noise_1b

noise_2

noise_3

The report recommends a large variety of mitigation measures.  To date only the first recommendation was implemented, the construction of an 8-foot tall sound wall at the expense of the neighbors and the owner shared.

sound wall

According to the neighbors, the sound wall has reduced the amount of litter on the property but not the noise.  The problem is that the sound wall was only one of six mitigation methods which also included changing the playground layout, changing group play areas, changing the surface of the play area, changing the playground entrance and exit away from the neighbors homes, changing the nature of the covered area, and changing the type of wheeled toys from hard plastic wheels to rubber wheels.

Just from observing the noise levels, one other factor that would reduce noise levels would be staggering the number of children who are in the play yard to avoid all seventy children being in the play yard at any given time.

LETTERS FROM NEIGHBORS

One of the more remarkable letters is from DH Alexander Construction regarding the noise problems they encountered as they attempted to install double-pane windows for Coralie Munro who incurred a hefty expense for sound reductive windows, only to find that they did no good.

noise_letter_const_red
The image of the full letter is above, here is the text:

“I would like to take this opportunity to explain why we are asking that you hire another contractor for any further work on your house.

As contractors we are used to working in noisy conditions. However, the noise from the school next to your property is one of the worst, most distracting and annoying types of noise we haye encountered on a Job Site. It starts before 9:00 am in the morning and is continuous almost all day until 6:00 pm., every day, Monday through Friday. While outside I wore earplugs to relieve the noise while working on your property. I had to shout to my co-workers to be heard above the constant screaming and noise from multiple toys with loud wheels, where dozens of children are kept on a patio just a few feet away from your house. It was a relief when occasionally the children went inside.

Unfortunately, the level of noise inside your house is nearly the same as it was before we installed your specially ordered, laminated, dual pane windows, which you had selected in the hope of reducing the noise from the school next door. It appears that the extra insulation in your downstairs bedroom and the laminated window we installed in the room, which you had hoped to rent, does not reduce the noise to levels acceptable to you.

I realize now that your sole purpose for replacing the windows and siding was to alleviate the large amount or noise you suffer daily from the school. Despite all of your work and expense, I am sorry that there has been little improvement in the amount of noise, which enters your home.”

Here is are a few excerpts from a letter to the city of Davis dated July 8, 2006:

“It has been a little over a year since I moved into a property on 2319 Cezanne Court, directly behind Montessori Day School. I never imagined, much less expected, such high levels of noise coming from the school or the steady stream of debris that found its way into my yard. My neighbors also experienced similar problems, and together we have tried several times to resolve the issues at hand. Despite promises to alleviate the problems with the fence and where the children play, nothing has been done.

One of the first issues I’d like to address is the noise, which is constant during most of the daytime hours and even heard when our windows are closed. On my few days off, I am usually awakened early because of the screaming children, the pounding of toys hitting the ground, and various other audible clutters.”

Here is another:

“For example, during outdoor play at the school between the hours of 8:45 AM to 6:00 PM, we are forced to keep our windows closed because the yelling from the children is so intense (and which has been well documented as being above legal sound levels).  Even with closed windows, the noise from the school is clearly audible. Also, by climbing on play structures situated along the fence line, children are able to look into our yard and frequently toss toys over the fence. The stray toys are not only bothersome to clean up, but also can be unsafe for our dogs if they are chewed and ingested. Recently the hours of outdoor play has been increased on weekends extending the time we are forced to leave our windows closed.”

Again, some of these problems have been resolved by the construction of the fence, but the noise problem remains.

Finally, yesterday I made my third visit to the home of one of the neighbors.  Due to the persistent winds, it has been difficult to get a good reading on the noise level.  I have a video interview of her on what she characterizes as a quiet day, which was anything but quiet.  She told me normally noise level is at least 10 times louder.  Recall the sound expert found that noise levels approached 90 decibels.  While this was prior to the construction of the soundwall, from this interview, you can hear that the soundwall has not done much to mitigate noise.

Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor has discussed exempting this school from the city’s noise ordinance.  It seems more reasonable that he ought to expend his energy attempting to work with the neighbors and making the kinds of changes that would mitigate the noise problem.  The neighbors do not mind children, they do not mind the school there, they would be happy to co-exist with the school if the school would take the kinds of common-sense measures that are clearly available to them to reduce the noise that emanates from their property.  Meanwhile neither the city nor the city council ought to let this owner off the hook by providing an exemption.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

32 thoughts on “Noise Issues Persist With Little Help From City”

  1. SODAite

    Good job, any idea why pulled from agenda?
    I believe Don Saylor wanted the exemption for ALL child care, now and in future which is even more unreasonable.

  2. tq

    The graph above clearly shows the peak of noise is between about 10.40 am and 11.10 am…so for a whole half-hour, when most people are at work, there is noise from the playground.

    Our kids were at MCD…we thought it was a great place, wonderful staff and a nice setting.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    That’s just a one hour survey of the noise, that’s not the limits of it by any means. Her description is that it starts between 8 and 9 and lasts an hour, then they come out again, and then from around 2 pm on, it’s all noise with the noon to two nap period.

    Every single neighbor who has lived there has said the noise is constant and all day. I’m sure it’s a nice place for your kids, and I’m sure with a few measures it would be fine for the neighbors as well. The problem is that the owner has done little and the city almost nothing to implement the sound report.

  4. sympathize with the neighbors!

    TQ:

    That was when the noise was measured. They did not measure all day. Also,m do you live next to the school? If not, maybe you should spend a day at one of the neighbor’ homes and check it out for yourself.

  5. Barbara King

    Here is a piece of the Davis city code that we should all be aware of when we considered the possibility of day care facilities being exempt from the noise ordinance. As I understand it, this part of the city code means that a day care with up to 12 children can be put into any home in any neighborhood in Davis.

    1)Family and Group day care Homes. Licensed by the county social welfare department, have no age restrictions, and serve as the residences of the licensees. Small family daycare homes serve a maximum of six children, while large family day care homes serve from seven to twelve children. Such number shall include all resident children in the homes younger than twelve years old.

    A family or group day care home shall be considered a residential use of property for the purposes of this chapter.

    No conditional use permit or other zoning clearance shall be required for such a home which is not required of a single-family residence in the same zone.

  6. Green Meadows Neighbor

    The noise at the school is at times atrocious. I live around the corner from the school and pass it everyday. As the sound expert states ALL the mitigation measures must be implemented to achieve acceptable levels of noise at the school. The City of Davis has had sufficient information for years to enforce the noise ordinances on this business owner. Without any further delay they need to do so now.

    tq says: “The graph above clearly shows the peak of noise is between about 10.40 am and 11.10 am…so for a whole half-hour, when most people are at work, there is noise from the playground.”

    FYI—two of the five neighbors who have lived next to the school on Cezanne Ct. during the past 14 years worked at night. One was a Davis police officer and the other a medical doctor both who needed to sleep after their grave yard shifts. We are not talking about normal noise here. We are talking about excessive unhealthy noise that no one should have to put up with.

  7. Neighbor of an elementary school

    This article leads me to suggest you change the name of this blog to “The People’s Grumpguard of Davis — The Whiny Eye”

  8. David M. Greenwald

    Elementary school: I tell you what, I’ll take you down to the neighbors houses and then we can see if you think we’re whiny. I’m betting you don’t have the stones to do it though. I’m glad you’re the neighbor of an elementary school, it’s not the same. We’re not talking about normal noise here.

  9. Go After the School Owner

    “Our kids were at MCD…we thought it was a great place, wonderful staff and a nice setting.”

    Well bully for you! But you don’t live next to the school, and don’t have to put up with the constant din, part of which came from your noisy out-of-control children. As a mindful parent, you should have demanded better from the school.

    I live next door to a Montessori school, and we have never, ever had a noise problem. But then the children are not allowed to ride noisy bicycles either, nor do the kids scream at the top of their lungs. The noise level is quite reasonable, w children laughing and playing at normal levels that are not out of control.

    The neighbors should just keep taking this owner of the school to small claims court. Ask for the statutory maximum of $7500. In fact, the one neighbor could ask to be reimbursed for the window installation up to the statutory maximum of $7500, if the statute of limitations has not run on this issue. Here is another idea – ask the small claims court judge for the costs of a sound wall that will work (get an estimate). All homeowners effected go together, each asking for the statutory maximum. At 5 homeowners, that is a total of $37,500. If the owner of the school thought he was going to have to cough up significant cash, he would change his tune.

    Or hire yourself a lawyer, and file suit in regular court – getting an attorney to take it on a contingency basis. You are being deprived of the quiet enjoyment of your property – in effect a “taking” of your property rights. This school is also creating a “nuisance”.

  10. B Collins

    In the spirit of honesty I have pasted my response on this issue from a previous date. I unabashedly do have some interest in the welfare of a friend who has to live with this miscarriage of justice. However, I wished to respond to those people who have had or do have children in the school who out of loyalty have written in favor of the school. As a parent, if my child were enrolled in that particular school, my loyalty would be focused in a different direction entirely. What do you imagine the noise might be if measured from the school itself? With the noise reflected off of the wall, fences and the houses bordering the school I should imagine once mixed with the source it might be even louder than that which inconveniences the neighbors on Cezanne Court. As one who from exposure to aircraft noise while in the military suffered considerable high frequency hearing loss I would be most concerned about the safety of my child. The minimum acceptable noise levels adopted by a previous City Counsel were adopted for a reason. Nobody has the right to endanger either the safety or the quiet enjoyment of the property of their neighbors. I should think parents of attendees, the Davis City Counsel as well the sanctioning body for Montessori schools would be concerned that students who attended that school might have a legacy from such attendance that goes beyond just a decent education. The legacy of impaired hearing would be a tragedy indeed. While I do appreciate the Mayor Pro Tem’s attempt to keep members of my profession fully employed it’s hard for me to understand how a community which built ‘Toad Tunnel’ under Pole Line Road to protect the frogs in the community is less concerned about the protection of it’s citizens and children.

    “While visiting a Cezanne Court residence on numerous occasions over the years I have been assaulted by a cacophony of sound emanating from the day care center in question. Through the newly constructed sound wall, across the distance of a yard and through double pane glass windows the noise can be so pervasive that it is difficult at times to carry on a normal conversation within the homes sharing a property line with the day school, much less sleep. As a lawyer my first thought was that it was as clear a case of deprivation of property rights as I have witnessed. I once volunteered to draft a petition for a Writ of Mandate requiring the City of Davis to indiscriminately enforce its own laws. However, the neighbor to whom I made the offer, kinder than I, wished to try and settle the problem in a more peaceful manner. While I have no direct evidence of any relationship between the owner of the school and any members of the City Counsel the fact that the police are not there daily to enforce the sound ordinances already on the books is suggestive. It is hard for me to believe that a house full of college kids generating the same noise would be treated with the same tolerance. Noise is not less objectionable to those trying to enjoy the peace of their own homes just because it comes from children rather than young adults. The owner of the school refuses to limit the children to side playgrounds which share no property lines with private residences. The solutions appear relatively easy. I can only conclude that the owners response is an in your face, make me if you can, gesture to the suffering homeowners. To my professionally trained nose it sure smells like political cronyism to me.”

  11. Alphonso

    To some extent the letter from the contractor sounds like a cya letter after doing inadequate work. I have stayed at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport a couple of times which sits on the jetway. Based on that experience I know noise can be eliminated.

    It is obvious, after looking at a Google aerial view, the school was not laid out very well and it is a big school so noise will happen. I think many noise codes are absurd around schools, but the parents of these children should be willing to pay a little extra to alleviate some of the noise in this particular situation.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    Alphonso: I agree with your second point which is obvious at ground level as well.

    I was in the home and I see no reason to presume shoddy work. The windows are double paned, it’s just a lot of noise coming through them and probably they are not weak point, the walls are. I couldn’t believe how loud it was on the other side of the sound wall. It was even further amazing when she told me it was a quiet day, it was not quiet.

  13. To Alphonso

    With regard to Alphonso’ comment — I personally know that the contractor did a spectaulcar job for the homeowner in question, and is one of the best contractors in the area. His work was, and continues to be immaculate, and the homeowner was completely happy and satified with the work. However, despite the large expense of installing expensive sound windows and extra insulation, the noise can still be heard inside that home – with the windows all closed!

  14. B Collins

    With respect Alphonso while agree with some of your observations, at what cost should the homeowners have to pay to make their property livable again? It costs money, and time to bring lawsuits. Seldom are even those who prevail made whole. Some of the homeowners have put in sound deadening windows and contributed towards the building of the sound wall. The issue is why should they have been out of pocket for anything? They are not at fault. The City has refused to enforce it’s own laws and the owner has a commercial incentive to ignore them. Certainly there are more effective walls and windows available to decrease noise but who except a huge commercial entity can afford them. I as a taxpayer don’t wish to fund those costs so that one person can increase his profit. The recommendations by the sound experts suggest that the solution is as simple as having the school stagger the recesses to decrease the number of children outside at any given time and to have the children play in the side playgrounds that already exist. It would also help if big wheels and other such noisy toys be kept off the pavement behind the school, which focuses the noise towards the neighbors. While I understand (I wasn’t present) the owner once agreed with the City Counsel that he could move the sand box behind the school to another location his actual response was to increase the size of the sand box and place it directly against the neighbors fence. If true that hardly seems like an owner who is trying to reach a reasonable compromise, which would cost everybody less and perhaps provide a solution. The fact that the school seems unwilling to implement even those solutions that would cost the school nothing suggests that the owner has taken a position that he is only willing to make changes that he is forced into and he clearly evidences little fear that the City Counsel will step up and do what they are elected to do. One of the functions of local government is to insure that members of their community are not held hostage to the desires of entities that have the financial muscle to bully their neighbors because they know they can outlast them financially. In this instance it appears that local government has broken down. I have faith that because of community voices such as this blog Davis citizens will know how to fix it at the nest election.

  15. Rich Rifkin

    I live next to an elementary school and can’t hear the children. The noise from Highway 113 and the college rock band playing all day drowns them out.

  16. David M. Greenwald

    There is no reason that you should hear the children. There is a very specific design flaw and management flaw that has led to this problem.

  17. No sympathy for you

    Please , can you guys be serious , doesn’t anyone check out there neighbors before buying into a house ,all you had to do was look over the fence . Besides , this business has been there since the early 80’s , it’s the people that move next to the airport and then want the airport to leave . Hey Blog Boy , this one is a no brainer !

  18. madame shoes

    You have rights as neighbors to take these guys to court and sue them for intefering with your “right to peaceful quiet enjoyment” of the premises. Why are you waiting for an out to lunch shity council that doesn’t give a damn about the residents of Davis? Get rid of the cschity manager or perhaps we should make all these people come live next to the place where the noise is going on and see how THEY like it.

  19. Mike Harrington

    To the owner of the school, parents of kids at the school, city staff, and the city council:

    All of you have a fiduciary duty to those children to place them in a safe, healthy environment or approve building structures and uses that are safe and healthy.

    I have studied the situation at that school. All of you are negligent for allowing those children to attend that extremely, noisy environment.

    What is shocking to me is that not one of you has said a word about the health of the children. The health research on the adverse effects of noise is plentiful and well documented: the noise levels as measured from the neighbors yards is extremely unhealthy to all concerned. Can you imagine what the noise is doing to those innocent kids?

    Shame on all of you for letting this go on.

  20. Mike Harrington

    To B Collins:

    I just read your several posts. I think your comments are some of the most accurate, thoughtful, and right-on-the-money that I have ever read on this Blog. Thank you for posting.

  21. Jim Watson

    I installed a double pane window to cut nearby freeway noise. It made very little difference. I checked w/ a local installer and a national company. It takes a TRIPLE pane to provide substantial noise reduction. One company markets their triple pane as a “Quietliner”. I feel sorry for the neighbors. It looks like the owner has no interest in mitigating the problem.

  22. Jackson

    “Hey Blog Boy , this one is a no brainer !”

    You’re right, the city should enforce existing city codes and make the owner mitigate his noise problem.

  23. B. Collins

    Response to:“No sympathy for you”-

    While I have not researched this I have gleaned from the letters homeowners have written to the city counsel that the homes and the school were part of a planned community. They went in at the same time. The school was much smaller then and assurances were expressed from the school officials that noise would not be a problem. However, like buying a puppy St. Bernard, over time, you often don’t end up with what you started with. Over the years the school has grown and school management in my opinion has increasingly disregarded City ordinances, original agreements and common neighborly decency. I know my friend who is a long time Cezanne Court residence not only visited the property multiple times before purchasing it but went so far as to call the School and talk to them. My friend was reassured by the school that there had never been any complaints and the noise was never a problem. The old adage “timing is everything’ almost immediately reared its ugly head. It became apparent that noise was a problem and that what you would find depended upon what time of what day you visited that community. Over time conditions have deteriorated to the point where the school no longer even pretends to be a good neighbor. Nobody can predict with accuracy when a bad neighbor will inflict their particular version of pain on any neighborhood. However, when it happens there should be remedies within local Government to minimize the trauma.

    Response to “My view”-

    I am a personal friend of one of the “Cezanne Court. Victims”. I in frustration one morning in trying to talk over the noise emanating from the school offered to file a Writ of Mandate to get the City Counsel to enforce their own laws. Often even if you win such a thing what you get seems to the average citizen to be little more than an admonition from a judge that everyone should be good and play well together.It can be a very hollow victory. I didn’t offer to bring a free law suite. My estimate is that the start up costs for putting together the kind of lawsuit, everyone is discussing so casually, would be in the $40-50,000 range and it would likely cost considerably more to prosecute to completion. I was not requested to bring a lawsuit however in conversation with my friend I expressed my opinion that the neighbors simply couldn’t afford me. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or resources to be able to offer those services for free. Not many average citizens can afford that kind of cash outlay even if split several ways to try and accomplish what City Government is obligated to do in the first place. It would be like requiring all neighborhoods to buy tar and gravel to fix all the potholes on their own streets even though a portion of the money they pay as taxpayers is already allocated to do that. It’s painful for me to admit but our legal system is seldom about justice. It is about finding those uncomfortable compromises everyone can just barely live with. The most efficient way to accomplish that is to ENCOURAGE local government to do the job they were elected to do.

    Response to “Mike Harrington”-

    Thank you Sir for your courtesy and kind words. While we are not acquainted I am familiar with your unique history of service to the Davis community and I value your opinion. It would appear that your legally trained nose is no less astute than I believe mine to be. You as well focused on what I believe to be the most alarming aspect of this whole conversation. The safety to the children themselves.

  24. Mike Harrington

    Is the subject school less expensive than its competition? I’m wondering why the parents are missing in action here.

    Also, as to the real estate values of adjoining lots, I am sure that the values are reduced by at least 25% or more from comparable homes in that neighborhood. All of this is actionable by the neighbors, and the noise violation is a continuing one. (This allows the statute of limitations to extend for each day.)

  25. My View

    “My estimate is that the start up costs for putting together the kind of lawsuit, everyone is discussing so casually, would be in the $40-50,000 range and it would likely cost considerably more to prosecute to completion.”

    B. Collins, thanks for the clarification. And I do not in any way blame you for not taking this case on. Neighbors need to take this, en masse, into small claims court. Each one can ask for the statutory max of $7500, to cover the costs of triple paned windows. How’s that??? If the owner of the school thought he was going to have to cough up $37,500, he might change his tune.

    I also highly agree w Mike Harrington’s point. Where are the parents in this? Perhaps it is time for the neighbors to pass out leaflets to the parents, that include the sound report. I’ll bet these parents are not necessarily aware of what is going on. I know if my child were attending that school, I would raise holy h_ll!

    Example: The Montessori daycare I sent my daughter to decided to have a pet rabbit live and give birth in the children’s bathroom. Every morning parents walked in, the smell was atrocious. The kids couldn’t use that restroom, and in my opinion the conditions were a health violation. I called authorities, and was told it was indeed a health code violation. I returned to the school, advised them I would report them if they didn’t do something, and the problem was quietly resolved. You do what you have to do as a parent…

    Also, neighbors can start picketing the school. It is time to ratchet things up…

  26. Alphonso

    It is time to ratchet things up…

    Here is an idea

    If gentle persuasion fails, send sounds the other direction- sounds the parents of preschool parents do not want their kids to hear. High volume is not important, just the type of sound. Also the threat of doing this is probably more important than the deed itself. Let parents know what is going to happen. Just demonstrate how serious things are and see how the focus on cooperation improves. Nothing illegal just annoying – what goes around comes around.

  27. Information

    In response to questions from “no sympathy”:
    The day care and the homes were built at the same time as part of a City of Davis planned development.

    The Cezanne Court neighbors in this situation include original homeowners. To quote exactly, excerpts from a letter to Mr. Hillis from an original homeowner in June, 1994 “Although I have owned the house since 1979, the house was a rental unit much of that time until I moved back in about four years ago. When I last lived here, the preschool was a fledgling. When I returned, I was quite taken aback by the amount of noise the school generates……Quite frankly, the noise has often made me angry… “.

    Quoting from a letter to Mr Hillis in March, 1997 from an original homeowner “My husband and I moved into our home in Green Meadows in early 1979 before the school was built. We had some doubts ….. as the school grew, however, the noise from all the children being out at once became more than moderate…. When one is home during the day, one simply can not enjoy the back yard nor rest in the bedrooms when the children are at play. Surely one is entitled to full use of their residences?”

    From another homeowner addressed to the City Manager in 1996 “We moved into our home in Green Meadows in January of 1995 fully aware that we would become neighbors with the Montessori School. We anticipated a certain low level of noise that would accompany children enjoying themselves while playing in the yard. However, we were not prepared for, nor would we agree to accept the often excessive amount of screaming and shrieking that is allowed of the children. The noise is often so disruptive that we are unable to keep our windows open while we are home. Unfortunately, even after personal pleas to the school for consideration of our concerns, we continue to experience the effects of unacceptable behaviour. ”

    There are multiple letters from every homeowner of every home for the past 15 years, many photographs of litter, a professional sound report which the homeowners, the victims of this noise and litter, were forced to pay for and provide to the City. This Sound Report is irrefutable proof that the constant noise from the Montessori Day Care center is far beyond what any normal homeowner in the City of Davis should have to endure from any source or business. Every Council Member, including Mr Saylor who has never acknowledged a single letter, the City Managers office, City Attorney, Staff, etc have full copies of all letters written to them collectively and individually over the years, including copies of the letters to Mr Hillis from neighbors, and letters from City of Davis Mediation Services stating clearly that Mr Hillis refused to even meet in mediation as a good neighbor.

    It seems clear that the owner of the day care knowingly, intentionally and, considering injuries sustained by one homeowner, negligently has continued to operate his business in a manner that he knows has negative and often harmful impacts on the homeowners next to his day care and who has, in recent years, made changes at his day care (sand pit, placement of play structures, increasing numbers of loud wheeled toys on rough concrete) with full knowledge that these changes would, and actually have, increased the negative effects to his neighbors by his business operation. These changes were made in spite of the many letters to Mr Hillis from his neighbors, as well as requests to mediate through the City of Davis, and letters to City representatives who have spoken to Mr Hillis. This behaviour is inexcusable when there have been simple and doable remedies/mitigations available, which have been presented for years.

    After several meetings last year hosted by Mark Wood at the City of Davis, a wall was finally built with Mr. Wood’s help, and paid for by owners and the day care as a first step as outlined by the Report. As noted, the wall has almost stopped the litter, but the noise remains the same.

    The City of Davis allows and licences this business to operate. Why is it not required to abide by the same laws and ordinances that all other businesses operating in this City must abide by?

    Why does it need a special exemption hosted by Mr Saylor? How many other businesses in Davis would be rewarded for making illegal amounts of noise, littering their neighbors properties, and knowingly destroying the quiet use and enjoyment of their neighbors homes and properties?

  28. Concerned

    What is wrong with the City of Davis??

    This is an in your face, blatant violation of both litter and noise ordinances as shown over and over again – those long suffering homeowners deprived of the “quiet use and enjoyment” of their homes and yards by litter and noise which has been documented by an expert to be 100 times above background, if read correctly. 70-90 dB of noise is very loud.

    We care about the children, but this not about the children’s education, this is about how the day care owner runs his business and responds as a neighbor.

    The City passes laws claiming to care for, listen to and protect ALL of their Davis citizens.

    Shame on the City of Davis and its elected officials who pass their laws with great fanfare and then select who should abide by them. By doing so the City apparently condones this kind of behavior. Shame!

  29. Anon

    “this is news?…sighs…and the rest of the real world continues to shake its head and chuckle at Davis under their breaths…”

    If you had to live next to the noise, or your child lost their hearing while attending this school, you might think it is news. All depends on your sense of perspective, now doesn’t it?

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for