Pipe down, folks

Councilman has a good idea to resolve chronic noise complaints

As early as mid-summer the Chico City Council will consider amending the city’s municipal code as it relates to noise violations. When it does so, we hope the panel will listen to an idea floated this week by Councilman Andy Holcombe.

The veteran city leader has come up with a solution that likely would reduce the burgeoning number of noise complaints reported to the Chico Police Department. Holcombe suggests the police continue to give residents a warning when they are the subject of a complaint. However, instead of issuing a citation only upon a subsequent violation within 72 hours, as the code currently requires, he would make the timeline six months. That way, any household receiving two complaints within half a year would have to pay a fine.

On average, about 2,500 noise complaints are reported to the CPD each year. But the department estimates it can respond to only about half of them. Last year, the department issued 410 written warnings and 407 verbal warnings. It issued just three citations.

The fine for a first-time violation is $259, which is a lot of money these days, especially to college students. However, as the law stands, the people creating the chronic problems simply have to wait out the three-day timeline to avoid sanction. In other words, chronically noisy households could be reported every single weekend without repercussion. The six-month clause would make them think twice about being too loud. Plus, the fines go up for repeated offenses.

At an Internal Affairs Committee meeting, Holcombe’s was the sole vote against a move to amend the current law, but not because it doesn’t need tweaking. His only beef is that he thinks residents should be given an opportunity to resolve their offense, and they cannot do that without first receiving a warning. We agree.