CITY OF OLYMPIA Olympia, Washington PLANNING COMMISSION February 25, 2007 SUBJECT: ORIGINATED BY: STAFF CONTACT: Noise Ordinance Olympia City Council Ruth Snyder, Downtown Code Enforcement Officer, (360) 507-0436, rsnyder@ci.olympia.wa.us. Steve Friddle, Community Services Manager,(360) 753-8591, sfriddle@ci.olympia.wa.us Option 1. Schedule an April 7, 2008, public hearing on draft proposals that address noise conflicts in the downtown and provide staff with preliminary direction. Option 1. Amend existing Noise Ordinances to take into account Council Goals for the downtown that embrace housing and livability within a commercial district.




1. November 19, 2007 LU&E Committee Minutes 2. Sample noise level ordinances from the Cities of Seattle, Snohomish and Everett.


None. Work to be accomplished with existing staff. Presenters: Ruth Snyder, Code Enforcement Officer Georgia Sabol, Code Enforcement Officer

At the request of Councilmember Kingsbury, City Council referred the noise ordinance and its effect on downtown residents to the Land Use and Environment Committee. The Land Use and Environment Committee agreed to move forward with a review (See Attachment # 1 - LU&E Committee 11/19/07 Minutes). Staff believes that the current Noise Ordinance (OMC 18.40.080(B) and related codes) does not adequately address the downtown commercial district and simply relies on or police enforcement under Chapter 8.24 of the OMC/ Public Nuisance to deal with excessive noise. The problem of excessive noise is often exacerbated by commercial establishments and live music in the downtown which competes with quality of life issues for a growing number of residents and adjacent businesses.


One of four Council’s focus areas is “To invest in Downtown so that more people live, work, learn, shop, play and enjoy downtown.” As the City continues to make investments and residential housing units increase, we anticipate a growing concern regarding noise. The City adopted state statutes on noise control. The state statutes recognize that inadequately controlled noise adversely affects people’s health, safety, and welfare, the value of property, and the environment. The primary difficulty with the statute that is adopted into OMC 18.40.080(B) is that there are no maximum allowable noise levels that apply to our downtown business and waterfront zones. Other jurisdictions within the Puget Sound region facing similar difficulties have successfully adopted commercial maximum allowable noise level standards to address urbanizing areas that integrate growth and residential uses. Generally, the approach has been to simply add a maximum decibel level between 57 dba to 60 dba for commercial zones. A copy of Olympia’s Table N – Permitted Sound Levels in Receiving EDNA Classes along with excerpts from the cities of Seattle, Snohomish and Everett is attached (Attachment # 2). Since adopting such a new standard requires an amendment to the zoning ordinance, staff requests that the Planning Commission take the next step and schedule an April 7, public hearing to assess the implications of adopting new noise standards that will increase the quality of life and strike a balance between commercial and residences uses.
Finally, the Land Use and Environment Committee shares staff concern and wants to guard against potential pressure to go beyond the scope of work (See Attachment # 1) on related issues, such as residential/neighboring industry noise, motor vehicle and leaf blower noise, etc.

Option 1. Schedule a public hearing to explore options to adopt new combined Decibel-Based and Public Disturbance Ordinances Pros 1. Anticipates the concern regarding finding an appropriate balance between residential and commercial uses within the downtown. 2. Recognizes that inadequately controlled noise adversely affects people’s health, safety, and welfare, the value of 2

property, and the environment. 3. More tools for code enforcement to deal with specific situations and offer more flexible approaches to a wider range of situations. 4. Provides both quantitative and subjective expectations for the business community to use as guidelines to comply with better livability standards. By strengthening standards, the City would increase education and the likelihood of voluntary compliance. Cons 1. Initial confusion as standards are adopted. 2. Using both methodologies may lead to confusion by commercial establishments and residential complainants.

Option 2. Continue to rely on the decibel-Based Ordinances Public Nuisance/Disturbance Noise Ordinances Found in the State and local statutes. Pros 1. The simplest approach as use State RCW as the standard. The City would continue to rely solely on police enforcement of the “nuisance” code found in OMC 8.24.020(J). 2. There is less likelihood of a successful challenge under it than other methods of noise control enforcement. 3. Enforcement by police 24/7 rather than code enforcement. Cons 1. There is no applicable, maximum permissible noise level standard for the downtown. It is very difficult to investigate public disturbance complaints based upon subjective standards as opposed to maximum decibel reading levels. 2. Not all communities have the equipment, the necessary training or the resources to enforce such provisions.