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UPDATE MAY 28: Approved ordinance establishs decibel limit, rather than relying on subjective evaluations

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Scappoose Police Chief Norm Miller, center, sits between Alexandra Rains, assistant to City Manager Michael Sykes, right, at a City Council meeting. City staff have recommended amending the existing noise ordinance to clarify enforcement.

Update: The new noise ordinance was unanimously approved by the Scappoose City Council on Monday, May 20. Under the new ordinance, the noise limit from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is 55 decibels. The ordinance takes effect June 19.

Scappoose Police Chief Norm Miller has proposed an ordinance defining a specific volume limit between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Currently, the city's noise ordinance requires that police use a "reasonableness standard" in evaluating noise levels. According to Miller, that standard is unenforceable because of its subjective nature.

"Everybody's opinion is different, that includes the judge" when noise violations end up in court, Miller said.

The proposed ordinance amends the city's municipal code to define an unacceptable volume as equal to or greater than 55 decibels.

Scappoose police will use a sound meter to measure volume at the property line. The Scappoose Police Department already has this sound meter, according to Miller.

In the existing ordinance, "loud, boisterous talking, yelling or shouting which is audible 50 feet from the noise-producing site will be considered excessive" in residential areas.

The proposed volume limit is in line with volumes established in other cities.

The existing noise ordinance, like most Scappoose city ordinances, carries a fine of up to $500 dollars. Miller said he can only recall two times citations were issued for noise in the past decade.

At the City Council meeting on May 6, a community member voiced concern about the impact of the noise ordinance on farmers within city limits who begin harvesting early in the morning, sometimes using loud equipment. Miller noted that community members can get permits for exemptions to the ordinance.

The City Council will vote on the ordinance at its next meeting, held May 20 at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.


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