FREMONT — Hoping to address residents’ complaints about “excessive noise” from parties, sideshows, and protests, among other loud things, the Fremont City Council on Tuesday voted to create the city’s first noise ordinance, which will allow police to issue citations to people who don’t keep it down.
Police officials described the new ordinance as a way to improve efficiency when responding to noise complaints. Police usually warn someone on the first visit after a complaint is made, Chief Kim Petersen said during the meeting, but if the noise keeps going, the police department’s options are limited currently.
“If the caller calls again, really right now, all we have is an option to use a misdemeanor level citation,” Petersen said. That would would require the person who reported the noise to sign a complaint, something police officials say many are hesitant to do.
A police report would need to be created and the case would be sent to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Petersen said.
“We just don’t need that as the only tool, what we need is a lower level tool. So what we’re asking for with this noise ordinance is to allow us to write a simple citation in those cases,” she said.
The city council voted unanimously in favor of the new ordinance, after a brief discussion at its meeting Tuesday. The ordinance approval will need to be finalized by a second vote at a future meeting.
Though the city staff report said the city has experienced “a steady increase in complaints” about noise between 2018-2020, data from the city requested by this news organization shows complaints were steady in 2015 and 2016, at 888 and 887, respectively, and higher in 2017, at 1,027, than in 2018, at 913.
The complaints increased in 2019 to 1,056, and spiked in 2020, to 1,527, during a global pandemic when many more people were at home than usual, per police data.
“We did experience a spike in noise complaints during COVID, many from neighbors who called dispatch wanting to complain about private gatherings or parties in violation of the Health Order,” Geneva Bosques, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday in an email.
“We also saw numerous outdoor protests that went well into the nighttime hours this past summer, some in what would normally be quiet residential neighborhoods,” she said.
Our hope is that the new tool will help lower the number of calls and be supported by residents who repeatedly call in complaints and become frustrated by the lack of tools we have to address the issues,” Bosques said.
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Author: Joseph Geha
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