County Noise Ordinances
In addition to the ordinance prohibiting the use and possession of all fireworks, Santa Cruz County has two Ordinances to protect residents from "offensive noise."
Santa Cruz County Code
8.30.010 Offensive noise.
8.30.020 Subsequent offense within 48 hours.
8.30.010 Offensive noise.
(A) No person shall make, cause, suffer, or permit to be made any offensive noise.
(B) “Offensive noise” means any noise which is loud, boisterous, irritating, penetrating, or unusual, or that is unreasonably distracting in any other manner such that it is likely to disturb people of ordinary sensitivities in the vicinity of such noise, and includes, but is not limited to, noise made by an individual alone or by a group of people engaged in any business, activity, meeting, gathering, game, dance, or amusement, or by any appliance, contrivance, device, tool, structure, construction, vehicle, ride, machine, implement, or instrument.
(C) The following factors shall be considered when determining whether a violation of the provisions of this section exists:
(1) Loudness (Intensity) of the Sound.
(a) Day and Evening Hours. For purposes of this factor, a noise shall be automatically considered offensive if it occurs between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and it is:
(i) Clearly discernible at a distance of 150 feet from the property line of the property from which it is broadcast; or
(ii) In excess of 75 decibels at the edge of the property line of the property from which the sound is broadcast, as registered on a sound measuring instrument meeting the American National Standard Institute’s Standard S1.4-1971 (or more recent revision thereof) for Type 1 or Type 2 sound level meters, or an instrument which provides equivalent data. A noise not reaching this intensity of volume may still be found to be offensive depending on consideration of the other factors outlined below.
(b) Night Hours. For purposes of this factor, a noise shall be automatically considered offensive if it occurs between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. and it is:
(i) Clearly discernible at a distance of 100 feet from the property line of the property from which it is broadcast; or
(ii) In excess of 60 decibels at the edge of the property line of the property from which the sound is broadcast, as registered on a sound measuring instrument meeting the American National Standard Institute’s Standard S1.4-1971 (or more recent revision thereof) for Type 1 or Type 2 sound level meters, or an instrument which provides equivalent data.
A noise not reaching this intensity of volume may still be found to be offensive depending on consideration of the other factors outlined below.
(2) Pitch (frequency) of the sound, e.g., very low bass or high screech;
(3) Duration of the sound;
(4) Time of day or night;
(5) Necessity of the noise, e.g., garbage collecting, street repair, permitted construction activities;
(6) The level of customary background noise, e.g., residential neighborhood, commercial zoning district, etc.; and
(7) The proximity to any building regularly used for sleeping purposes.
(D) Prior to issuing a citation for this section, the responsible person or persons will be warned by a law enforcement officer or other designated official that the noise at issue is offensive and constitutes a violation of this chapter. A citation may be issued if, after receiving the warning, the responsible person(s) continues to make or resumes making the same or similar offensive noise(s) within three months of the warning. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (C)(1) of this section, enforcement of violations under this chapter shall not require the use of a sound level meter.
(1) For purposes of this section “responsible person or persons” means a person or persons with a right of possession in the property from which the offensive noise is emanating, including, but not limited to, an owner or a tenant of the property if the offensive noise is coming from private property, or a permittee if the offensive noise is coming from a permitted gathering on public property, or any person accepting responsibility for such offensive noise. “Responsible person or persons” shall additionally include the landlord of another responsible party and the parents and/or legal guardians of a responsible person under the age of 18 years. [Ord. 5205 § 1, 2015; Ord. 4001 § 1, 1989].
8.30.020 Subsequent offense within 48 hours.Any person who violates any section of this chapter and is cited for such a violation, and who within 48 hours after receiving such a citation again violates the same section, is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person is cited for a violation when he or she is issued and signs an infraction or misdemeanor citation, or when he or she is arrested and booked, or when a complaint is filed and the person is notified of the filing of such a complaint. [Ord. 4001 § 1, 1989].
(A) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any noise from any specific type of activity for which special noise regulations are provided by any other provision of the County Code.
(B) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any noise caused by farming operations carried out on any land designated within the Santa Cruz County General Plan for commercial agricultural use. [Ord. 4001 § 1, 1989].
Santa Cruz County Code
SOCIAL HOST LIABILITY ORDINANCE
8.32.020 Loud or unruly gatherings.
8.32.030 Cost recovery for sheriff services.
8.32.040 Consumption of alcohol by an underage person in a public place, place open to public, or place not open to public.
8.32.050 Hosting, permitting, or allowing a gathering where an underage person consumes an alcoholic beverage.
8.32.060 Reservation of legal options.
8.32.010 Definitions.The following terms used in this chapter shall have the meaning set forth in this section:
“Alcohol” means ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl, or spirits of wine, from whatever source or by whatever process produced, but does not include alcohol used for medical purposes when prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, pharmacist, dentist, nurse, hospital, or medical institution.
“Alcoholic beverage” has the same meaning as set forth in California Business and Professions Code Section 23004.
“Gathering” means a group of persons who have assembled or are assembling for an event or social activity such as a party, at a private residence, private premises, or as permitted on public property.
“Guardian” means: (1) a person who, under court order, is the guardian of the person of a minor; or (2) a public or private agency with whom a minor has been placed by the court.
“Loud or unruly gathering” means a gathering of two or more persons on public or private property, or a permitted gathering of two or more persons on public or private property whose loud or unruly conduct constitutes a threat to public health, safety, quiet enjoyment of residential property or general welfare, including, but not limited to, violations of Chapter 8.30 SCCC. A loud or unruly gathering shall constitute a public nuisance.
“Parent” means a person who is a natural parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, or step-parent of another person.
“Premises” is privately owned land, including any appurtenances or structures on the land.
“Private residence” means the place where one actually lives or has his or her home.
“Responsible person(s)” means a person(s) with a right of possession in the property on which a loud or unruly gathering is conducted, including, but not limited to, an owner or tenant of the property if the gathering is on private property, or a permittee if the gathering is a permitted gathering on public property, or any person(s) accepting responsibility for such a gathering. “Responsible person” shall additionally include the landlord of another responsible person and the parents and/or legal guardians of responsible persons under the age of 21 years. To incur liability for special enforcement charges imposed by this chapter the responsible person need not be present at the loud or unruly gathering resulting in the emergency response giving rise to the imposition of special enforcement charges. This chapter therefore imposes vicarious as well as direct liability upon responsible persons.
“Special enforcement” includes the cost of salaries and benefits of law enforcement officers or other emergency response personnel for the amount of time actually spent in responding to, or in remaining at, or otherwise managing the response to the party, gathering, or event (with a minimum charge of one hour); the actual cost of any medical treatment to injured law enforcement officers or other emergency response personnel; the cost of repairing any damaged County equipment or property; and the cost arising from the use of any damaged County equipment in responding to or remaining at the party, gathering, or event; together with an additional 33 percent of the special security charge for administrative overhead.
“Underage person” means any person less than 21 years of age. [Ord. 5016 § 3, 2008].
8.32.020 Loud or unruly gatherings.
(A) It is unlawful and constitutes an infraction for a responsible person to conduct or allow a loud or unruly gathering on premises owned by the responsible person or on premises rented by or to the responsible person.
(1) When a Sheriff’s deputy responds to a loud or unruly gathering, the deputy shall inform any responsible person at the scene that:
(a) The deputy has determined that a loud or unruly gathering exists; and
(b) Subsequent responses to the premises within the next 12 months involving the same responsible person shall result in the responsible person being charged for the cost of any special enforcement. Only one warning will be given before the County assesses special enforcement costs pursuant to SCCC 8.32.030. If a responsible person cannot be identified at the scene, the Sheriff may issue a warning to other responsible persons identified in SCCC 8.32.010, or subsequently return to the scene and issue the warning to a then-present responsible person. Warnings given to responsible persons who do not reside at the premises in question shall be delivered by certified mail. [Ord. 5016 § 3, 2008].