Expanded noise ordinance considered in Clallam County

Commissioner says residents have asked about broader law

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias has suggested officials should revive a decade-old discussion on whether the county should adopt a noise ordinance.

Ozias broached the idea at the end of Monday’s work session, asking Commissioners Randy Johnson and Bill Peach if they would like to talk about it early next year.

Neither expressed support for a noise ordinance, but Johnson said he was open to discussing it.

“I don’t have a problem talking about it, but it’s very complex and what do you do if someone violates it?” Johnson asked.

The Clallam County commissioners had considered such an ordinance in 2008, but after facing pushback from county residents abandoned the idea.

Ozias, Johnson and Peach were not commissioners at the time.

Ozias said in an email Thursday he has not yet reviewed the draft ordinance and that he plans to review ordinances in other counties as well.

“I am just doing some research on work that has been done previously in Clallam County regarding the development of a noise ordinance,” Ozias said.

“I don’t expect to advance this conversation to a work session until the first part of next year, most likely.”

Ozias said that since he has been commissioner, a noise ordinance has been a topic people frequently ask him about.

“I’ve got someone who has a neighbor, who doesn’t like PUD power for whatever reason, and they’ve got a generator that runs all night long,” Ozias said.

“With a noise ordinance that had a maximum decibels at some distance, we might be able to enforce that.”

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said Wednesday he fully supports having a nuisance noise ordinance and that he was disapointed it wasn’t approved in 2008.

He said at the time special interest groups representing motorcycle riders and radio control aircraft banded together and convinced former commissioners Mike Doherty and now state Reps. Steve Tharinger and Mike Chapman to reject the proposal.

Chapman said in 2008 that commissioners “heard from the public loud and clear” during a public hearing and chose not to move forward on the proposed ordinance.

The current sound ordinance applies only to amplified music.

County code currently prohibits anyone from producing any amplified noise that can be heard 150 feet or more from the source or property lines between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. A violation of the code is a misdemeanor and is punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.

“You have people just being nuisances and doing ridiculous things,” Benedict said. “People have a right to peace and quiet.”

Ozias said he and staff will review the draft ordinance that was considered in 2008 before bringing it to the commissioners to discuss.

At the time it was written, it would have been enforced by the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

The 2008 draft would make it illegal to make “any noise, sound or signal which unreasonably disturbs the comfort, peace or repose of another person or persons.”

Continuous sounding of any horn or siren, except as a warning of danger, would be prohibited.

The creation of frequent, repetitive or continuous sounds in connection with the starting, operating, repair, rebuilding or testing of any vehicle or engine between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. would be prohibited.

The ordinance would prohibit using audio equipment in a way that “interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of owners … of nearby real property.”

Yelling, shouting and whistling that unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace of neighbors between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. would be prohibited.

The first two offenses would be civil infractions while a third offense within a year would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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