Enough with the noise!

Chico needs a new noise ordinance

The author is a retired Spanish professor and the author of our Dec. 24, 2009 cover story, “The Bones of St. James,” about trekking the ancient Camino de Compostela pilgrimage route.

There’s a grassroots movement in Chico to convince the City Council to pass a meaningful noise ordinance: ENOUGH! (Effective Noise Ordinance: Uniting for a Greater Hometown). Our email contact is <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,101,110,111,117,103,104,99,104,105,99,111,64,121,97,104,111,111,46,99,111,109,34,62,101,110,111,117,103,104,99,104,105,99,111,64,121,97,104,111,111,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.

With the presence of a large institution of higher education, one would expect an academic atmosphere and adult behavior to pervade Chico; instead, there’s a party (alcohol-consumption) atmosphere and adolescent behavior. The result is unreasonable noise after 10 p.m. on most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when Chico State is in session.

Noise from the student apartments behind our house has made me dread weekends for almost 22 years. Our bedroom window is some 40 feet from the apartment complex’s parking lot, where students congregate to party. Sleep is made impossible on a regular basis by high-decibel music and obscenity-laced screaming. Appeals to the complex’s management have been ineffective. Calling the police sometimes results in noise abatement, but only for one night.

I shouldn’t have to call the police multiple times every weekend. When officers come to our house to peer over the back fence to determine where the noise is coming from, I have asked them if they can do something that will be effective in the long term. They tell me that they are limited by Chico’s noise ordinance.

Chico residents not affected by student noise may consider the following suggested solutions to be draconian, but those who suffer on a regular basis will probably find them reasonable.

Noise ordinance in effect 24 hours a day.

One warning in any 12-month period.

Tickets may be issued to one or all partiers.

A maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail.

When a tenant is fined, the property owner will be fined an equivalent amount.

These proposed modifications to Chico’s current noise ordinance were taken from those of two other college towns: San Luis Obispo and Fort Collins, Colo.

I urge readers to write your City Council members. Go to www.chico.ca.us/city_council/ home_page.asp to access their email addresses. Tell them your story and what you would like to see in an effective noise ordinance. The misery that so many Chicoans endure because of student noise needs to end.

Good neighbors keep their noise to themselves.