The issue of the time limitations for the noise ordinance exemption are interesting:
“The draft ordinance includes the exemption between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm. This parallels the time limits on construction hours.”
That is interesting because the construction hours time limitation is always something that the neighbors request a change on.
But the staff report fails to adequately describe the nature of the problems and the complaints.
They acknowledge the complaints which actually date back 15 years not the past several.
“Over the past several years, the City has fielded complaints over noise from day care centers, particularly from residents living adjacent to the Montessori Country Day Center on Renoir Avenue.”
But more importantly they write:
“Although the day care operator and adjacent homeowners cooperated in the construction of an insulated noise fence, the City continues to receive complaints.”
What the city fails to note is their own involvement in a May 2007 meeting where the City Manager, members of the city council, the owners, and the neighbors all met to deal with the problem. At that meeting, Mark Woods, a city staffer wrote a letter to formalize the agreement. The owner at this meeting agreed to construct a noise fence to mitigate noise, the cost of the fence would be split between the owners and neighbors.
However and here is the key point, it was agreed by all parties including the city:
“After the fence was in place we would re-evaluate the noise levels to determine if other measures need to be taken.”
In fact, the sound experts laid out a long series of recommendations for noise mitigation. These recommendations include building a sound wall, moving the exit doors further from residents, utilizing a covered play area with sound deadening panels, create a new concrete surface that will reduce noise from wheeled toys, change the tires on these toys to soft rubber, cordon off the rear area near the fence, relocate the current patio, and change the rear exit doors to emergency use only.
The neighbors were willing to share the costs of these changes.
So for the city staff report to say that they cooperated in the construction of the noise fence, well that’s true, but the sound experts at that time told the city and the city AGREED to make additional changes and they did not.
The sound report in fact clearly states that the sound wall itself would not work unless the other required mitigation measures were met. The city agreed to re-evaluate noise levels, and we have measurements from the sound expert after the construction of the sound wall showing 90 decibel reads INSIDE people’s homes through double-pane sound insulated windows.
In short the city has violated and failed to follow through on their own agreement with the neighbors to mitigate the noise. As one can see from the staff report, there is no justification for the changing of the noise ordinance other than the fact that the council asked them to evaluate it.
Even the proposed resolution does not offer any justification for the noise ordinance other than:
“the General Plan includes a Goal (Y&E 7) to work with the Davis Joint Unified School District and private school operators to provide for public schools and educational facilities that serve as neighborhood focal points and maintain a quality learning and recreational environment.”
To some this may seem like a minor issue, however, to others this goes to the heart of the problem. The city has known about this problem going back at least to 1994. They have taken some steps to mitigate the problem but failed to follow the advise of the sound experts who told them specifically that the sound wall alone would not solve the problems and then they meticulously laid out the next steps to be taken. The city agreed to these as the letter from Mark Woods demonstrates but never followed through.
In August the neighbors again sent a letter to the city and the city responded this time by putting an exemption to the noise ordinance on the agenda this week. Individual city council members were sent emails requesting meetings and they failed to respond to the neighbors concerns.
From the picture, one can see exactly what the problem is. You have a covered patio area and a play area that directly abuts the homes. How difficult would it be for them to have the kids primarily play somewhere else? And while some of the other measures would have added expense, if that is the cause of the problem, why not share the expense and move the location of the play area to the front rather than the side of the property right next to the neighbors?
There is little doubt that if the neighbors are being negatively impacted by the consistently high levels of noise that the children and workers are as well. The city wants to exempt the facility from noise issues but at the same time it is not doing its due diligence to protect the health and safety of the children under this facility’s care.
—David M. Greenwald reporting