ModelNoise (Free) Element for a General Plan
By David Dilworth (with assistance from Herman Medwin, Ph.D.)
Copyright 2004-2006 Helping Our Peninsula's Environment
(Permission to use in a legislative body's policy is hereby granted - but only where credit is given to Helping Our Peninsula's Environment, David Dilworth and Herman Medwin Ph.D., and notice is received by Helping Our Peninsula's Environment. Any other use requires written permission.)
Informed Consent Noise Policy
This Noise Prevention Policy or General Plan Element can be used by any nation, state, city or county (for example - Canada, California, Carmel-by-the-Sea, or Calaveras County).
This policy is intended to be as simple as possible for cities and counties to merely add this into their General Plan policies with virtually no editing other than to insert the name of their jurisdiction.
It is intended to be a higher level policy that guides preparation of a Noise Control Ordinance or a Code by defining the scope and limits of what they must address. While it is not intended as a Noise Ordinance or a Code, parts of it can be used for that.
In California, all cities and counties are required to prepare and adopt a "General Plan" and stay within the limits it defines. General Plans need to be updated every 5 years or so. Each General Plan has seven required elements including Noise. You may notice that this Element has four improvements over typical Noise control policies and laws:
Your comments for improvements are welcome.
The purpose of this noise element is to restore and maintain (your jurisdiction's 1 ) overall and specific quiet healthful environment and natural aesthetics; to eliminate harmful and disturbing man-made unwanted sound, known as noise, in and adjacent to (our jurisdiction).
2. This Plan recognizes that relative levels of noise intrusion compared to the existing noise levels, are sometimes more important than absolute noise levels.
5. This Plan recognizes the California legislature's determination to take all action necessary to provide the people of this state with enjoyment of aesthetic, and natural environmental qualities, and freedom from excessive noise.
6. This Plan recognizes that there is no right to pollute, harm or annoy others.
7. This Plan recognizes the fundamental rights of every individual --
8. This Plan recognizes the existence of abundant alternative technology which is significantly less noisy.
Quiet Restoration and Protection Actions
Air Conditioners, Amplified Music, Barking Dogs, Chainsaws & Wood Chippers, Construction Vehicles, Construction Power Tools & Equipment, Generators, Industrial Fans, Industrial Engines, Leaf Blowers, Lawn Mowers, Portable Radios, Power Transformers, Public Address Systems, Public Fields or Stadiums (e.g. Football, Baseball, Soccer), Racing Tracks, Rock Quarries, Theaters, Vehicles, Weapon use (including Firing Ranges and Hunting), Aircraft, Busses, Cars, Neighborhood traffic, Traffic near Parks, Car Music, Event Traffic, Idling Busses, & Trucks, Motorcycles, Street Sweepers, Trucks, Garbage Trucks, Rockets, Spacecraft and Trains.
b. The measurements shall separately measure and map all noise locations in our jurisdiction, and sound levels, for --
2. To prevent harm, annoyance and activity interference by noise, no activity, existing or proposed, is permitted, except to alleviate an emergency, which can cause any transient or continuous noise exceeding --
A. Noise levels of 55 dBA on any party unwilling or unable to give their consent.
B. Natural sound levels by 5 dBA, where any alternative exists.
For example: Truck routes can be specified and truck speed limits can be lower than for other vehicles. An alternative to idling a bus or a truck is to require the motor to be turned off. An alternative to a 117 dBA chainsaw - is the use of an axe which only causes 55 dBA maximum.
3. To adequately warn people consenting to sound levels exceeding 55 dBA about the potential harm to their health, prior to the noise activity, each person whose consent is required must be given a readable copy of a true declaration clearly describing maximum noise levels and durations, and all potential harms to their health from the activity. Consent is only valid when a copy of the declaration is signed by the party affected by the noise. Proxy signatures are not valid.
4. To eliminate outside noises which adversely affect our area, (our jurisdiction e.g. Carmel or Monterey County) shall encourage avoidance and alternatives to all agencies and jurisdictions which have control over those noisy activities.
5. This Plan is intended to reflect the best available science. Whenever significantly improved information, alternatives, methods and equipment become available all policy related to this subject shall be updated within one year.
6. At all times (the jurisdiction, e.g. Carmel or Monterey County) shall provide adequate resources to fully enforce this element and employ at least one full-time safety officer trained in noise detection and enforcement and noise free alternatives.
7. Compliance shall be encouraged with meaningful substantial fines collected, equal to the yearly cost of the noise making equipment by each responsible party for violations of each provision of this policy. Such fines shall be wholly applied to providing non-noisy alternatives and noise monitoring.
8. Any person may bring suit to enforce compliance with this policy. When successful enforcement of this ordinance is brought and accomplished by any person or entity other than the District Attorney the successful plaintiff shall be awarded $5,000 civil penalty from defendant and any other fees and costs deemed appropriate by the court including those awarded pursuant to (California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5)2
Note 1. Where you find the word "jurisdiction" in parenthesis you replace it with the name of your city or county - for example - Carmel, or Monterey County.
Note 2: The Attorney's Fees Provision must be modified to fit your state or country's laws.
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This Page Last Updated January 22, 2007