Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Noise ordinance needs to be thoughtful and flexible

Mesa is considering making a noice violation a civil offense (Republic version here). As I read it, it looks like the revamp surrounds giving officers the discretion to decide to ticket people or not. Currently, it sounds like people are given a warning of violation before being issued a ticket for a repeat violation in 90 days, and then given criminal misdemeanor charge which requires a victim or someone who is willing to make a complaint.

Several concerns have arrived, such as the impact such a law could have on churches (including this church who is already receiving noise complaints) and other special scenarios - any of which can be laid out in infinite detail. While its true that changes may need to be made to Mesa's noise ordinance, it seems a little harsh for people to be able to be immediately ticketed at the discretion of any officer. Afterall, what if there were immediate repercussions for any officer who leaves their gun in public?

Replacing a system contained with mandatory warnings for a civil citation, with a minimum $250 fine, plus court charges could create some very terrible problems for Mesa residents. What if parents leave their kids home alone for the weekend and come home to a $1000 in civil fines? What exactly will be the noise standard and who is going to be the judge? What is too loud?

Police officers have tools and tests to determine DUIs, they have radar guns and cameras to determine speeding. I am sure that the decibel readers are a pain, but is it really that bad? Noisy neighborhoods are damaging to our quality of life, but a strict and stringent rule is not the answer.

No comments: