In Hearing Health magazine’s Summer 2015 cover story, “Turn Down the Noise, Turn Up the Quiet,” coauthor Daniel Fink, M.D., wrote about his efforts to introduce an indoor quiet law to his local city council in California. This is a sample ordinance to be used as the basis for a proposal to your local government. To get more ideas for taking action against noisy public places, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROPOSED MODEL INDOOR NOISE LAW
- It is the declared policy of the City to prohibit unnecessary, excessive, and annoying noise levels from all sources in all locations.
- Sound levels from all noise sources in places of public accommodation (within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III- 1.2000, 42 CFR) shall be limited, by use of lower sound volumes on sound amplifying equipment, sound absorbing or sound deadening materials, and other methods where feasible, to a sound level that permits persons within the place of public accommodation to converse without straining to speak or to be heard. For purposes of enforcement, this sound level is further defined as an average sound level over one (1) hour of 70 dBA. Further, peak sound levels shall be limited to 90 dBA.
- Citizens, customers, or patrons of places of public accommodation may report excessive sound levels to the City’s code enforcement staff or the Police Department by emailing sound readings from approved smartphone sound level meter applications (apps).
- Approved smartphone sound level meter applications as of the effective date of this law, for this reporting purpose, are: for iPhones, Faber Sound Meter 4; SPLnFFT; Noise Hunter; and NoiSee; for Android phones, SPL Meter; Decibel Pro; dB Sound Meter; and Noise Meter.
- Establishments desiring to request exemption from these requirements may do so in writing to the Department of Building and Safety. Requests for exemption shall not be unreasonably denied. Establishments granted exemption shall post warning signs ina prominent position outside near the entry door and inside the establishment, shall install a visible sound meter no smaller than 10 inches in its smallest dimension in a prominent and readily visible position in each public room inside the establishment, and shall provide at no cost to customers or patrons American National Standards Institute rated hearing protection devices (either ear plugs or ear muffs) with a minimum 25 dB noise reduction rating (NRR).
- The warning sign shall be no smaller than ten (10) inches in height and width and shall state in red letters on a white background the word WARNING in capital letters no smaller than 1.5 inches in size, followed underneath by the language: “This facility allows noise levels known to cause permanent hearing damage. Hearing protection is available upon request.”
- Enforcement of these sections of the Municipal Code shall be according to procedures specified in other portions of the Code, which are incorporated herein by reference.