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Hollister council updates noise ordinance

Establishes clearer guidelines for residents and businesses, determined by decibel reading 

City Hall

Special to the Free Lance

The Hollister City Council agreed Feb. 22 to update the city’s current noise ordinance to establish a more defined decibel level requirement.

Hollister Police officials stated that the department has received “numerous complaints” for noise in the residential areas of the city. However, because the current disturbance laws require a person to sign a complaint, many noise violations have continued, police said.

With the new additions to the current ordinance, the guidelines are finer and allow those filing the complaint to remain anonymous. It also establishes noise levels for downtown, citing the rise of residential apartments in the area.

The additional amendments allow police to attempt to contact an offender to issue a warning. If the violation continues and the offender has not responded to a second call, an officer may issue a citation.

A warning, however, is not necessary, the updated code states. Violation of the ordinance can either result in a fine of up to $500 or a misdemeanor. 

A question arose of whether or not drivers can receive a citation for being in violation of the updated code. 

Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso confirmed that drivers can be cited.

“There are vehicle codes in the book right now, depending on the music or the exhaust,” he said.

While some council members said the goal is not to hand out citations, they acknowledged that if an offender is not cooperative, a police officer has the authority to issue one. 

“It is unlawful at any time, for any person to knowingly make, continue or cause to be made or continued, any excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noise,” the code states.

However, “a barking dog, commercial construction or commercial landscaping noise” are excluded from being in violation. For noise disturbances regarding animals, the code states that “it shall be the duty of the animal control officer and of every police officer of the city to take whatever steps they may in their discretion believe to be necessary to abate such nuisance occurring in the presence of the officer.” 

Commercial construction activities on or near residential properties are limited to 7am to 6pm Monday through Friday, 8am-6pm on Saturday and prohibited on Sundays and federally recognized holidays.

The addition of downtown-specific language to the code is meant to establish clear guidelines for the daytime and nighttime, police said. 

A noise can be considered a violation if it exceeds 85 decibels from 8am to 10:30pm, 65 decibels from 10:30pm to 2am, or 50 dBA from 2-8am, measured at the property line where the noise is being generated.