Students Look Toward a Change in the Enforcement of the Noise Ordinance

noise-ordinance-signby Amani Rashid –

Davis, being the college city that it is, has its fair share of “raging” parties; and where there are parties there are noise complaints and that is where the police come in. But what exactly constitutes as too much noise? Who should be held accountable for the noise violation? What is standard protocol for dealing with noise complaints?

These were some of the questions raised at the City-UC Davis Student Liaison Commission meeting last week as they discussed an ASUCD noise ordinance reform proposed by the Director of City-County Affairs Dylan Schaefer, a second year Political Science and Economics double major.

The proposed reform aims to legitimize the procedure police generally follow when dealing with a noise complaint. It would prevent the police from issuing citations for noise violations without giving a formal warning and a 15-minute grace period unless the residence has received formal warnings in the last 30 days or more than 5 warnings in the last year.

The chief intent of the reform is to put lucid limits on when an officer can write a noise citation. Although there was no arguing that, historically, the police of this city have struggled determining what noise level is deemed appropriate and maintaining steady policy and protocol; several questions were brought up during the meeting.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind was, “will the reform restrict the police when enforcing the Noise Ordinance?” In some instances yes it will, but, although it sounds crazy, this restriction is not all bad. It will stop officers from issuing citations without warning to residents who are not repeated offenders; a relief to every poor college student who accidentally played their music a little too loud as they studied for their menacing calculus final.

Another valid point brought up during the meeting was, “Will this increase the amount of noisy parties since it will be perceived as easier to get away with?” The formal response to this question was: “This reform proposal is in many ways a formalization of what the police currently do, and so residents should not perceive it as a relaxation of the law?”

So if there was a general consensus about the necessity of a consistent, official policy why was it then that the meeting ended on an inconclusive note?
Assistant Director Kevin Pascual, a third year History and Economics double major, believes that the reform was not voted on because of “poor presentation and a lack of evidence to back claims made.”

For example, when the authors of the reform were asked to justify the allegations that police have unjustly cited students without warning; all that was offered was merely an eyewitness account.

Another reason the meeting may have ended inconclusively is “a lack of collaboration with the Davis police while drafting the reform; it is necessary to include the opinions and ideas of all those affected,” stated Pascual. The retort; regardless of who authored the reform, “This reform is not about making it easier to party,” as Schaefer was quoted affirming.

The student response to the Noise Ordinance Reform was quite unexpected. Most students approached with the question: “What are your opinions on the noise reform?” responded by stating “I like it as long as it lets the police do what they do!”

Chris Lucas, a second year Chemistry major, responded by stating: “I’ve been warned and I’ve been cited on more than one occasion, but never once was it a messy affair. I don’t see need for reform.”

Some students perceived the reform differently. Linda Said, a fourth year English major, was happy to see “students finally taking initiative and taking steps to repair a big problem that affects us students instead of complaining and hoping it will fix itself.”

My apartment manager was similarly impressed when presented with the proposal: “I always like to see students address issues that surpass what brand of beer tastes best. This reform is well stated and doesn’t seem to carry a student bias.”

All my neighbors think the reform needs to be stricter; more accountability is necessary: “When I’m studying for three midterms and working on a paper I want to know that the insensitive party host across the street suffers the consequences!”

The complications of implementing a noise reform transcend the question, “Does it favor students too much.” It is a lengthy process; the original ordinance took years to put into place and this reform cannot be rushed.

As a result of last week’s meeting the authors of the reform will be meeting with the police department and commission members this week to draft a proposal the commission will accept.

I have seen officers cite residents without warning and I have seen officers warn residents more than once without a citing. Although a little bit of standard protocol and procedure is clearly essential; we mustn’t forget, the policy must take into account its effects on the entire community and its effect in the long run.    

Amani Rashid is a second year UC Davis student who will be writing about UC Davis and student related issues for the Vanguard.

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.

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  1. E Roberts Musser

    AR: “As a result of last week’s meeting the authors of the reform will be meeting with the police department and commission members this week to draft a proposal the commission will accept.”

    It is important for all stake holders to be at the table when any changes/reforms to current policies are being made.

    Our street used to have a bit of a problem w an apartment complex when students there would have rather noisy parties on occasion. The students themselves solved the problem. They took it upon themselves to notify w flyers all the neighbors in the immediate area of when a party was going to be held. The flyer requested that anyone who thought the noise was too loud first call and complain to the party hosts before calling the police. Worked like a charm. The neighborhood knew when the parties were to be held; the students kept the noise levels more reasonable; and we have not had a problem since – and that has been at least for the last 7 – 8 years.

  2. Steve Hayes

    With warm weather approaching, it is good to read that the City, UCD, and ASUCD are once again discussing party noise issues and a proposed Noise Ordinance Reform. My wife and I have been Neighborhood Watch(NW) Co-Captains for our neighborhood for many years, have hosted numerous NW meetings, and most recently hosted a Davis Neighbors Night Out (DNNO) event. As a result, we have found UCD students living in rentals on our street to be respectful and responsive to noise issues, especially after neighborhood noise issues and a copy of the existing ordinance is made available to them. In the rare instance when City Police had to respond to a “party noise” call, they did so in a judicious and appropriate manner.
    The weak/broken link in the process continues to be property managers within the City whose offices act solely as rent-check drop off points. Among other things, the managers need to properly inform their student tenants of their responsibilities in the party noise arena. Otherwise, the Noise Ordinance Reform process will have little or no impact.

    The City’s NW program should not have to do this portion of the property managers work for free.

  3. indigorocks

    students suck with your loud noises, drunk driving and inconsiderate parties..and now you want to make it harder for davis residents to have the right to enjoy peace in their own homes…screw you students and your “rights” to make everyone else’s life hell

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