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A noise ordinance stops entertainment in a California town.

A new municipal ordinance in Orange County, California is preventing one development area from hosting live events unless it can muffle the noise to the outside. The ordinance was challenged through litigation and survived its first round in the court system.

In the case, a commercial development area offered live musical events in its amphitheater. However, residents of a nearby housing community complained of the noise levels when these events occurred. Complaints were made and the development and the town attempted a resolution.

When that was unsuccessful, the town passed a new law regarding noise levels in 2016. The development felt they were the reason for the ordinance and challenged the ordinance. It also claimed First Amendment rights were violated. Though not stated, the plaintiff may have claimed a violation of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble, or both.

The judge in the case disagreed and determined that the law on the books was valid. The court urged the plaintiffs to seek a technical resolution to the matter, by finding a way to keep the noise of the entertainment from dispersing into neighboring areas. It is unknown whether the developer will appeal the decision.

Noise ordinances are common in the field of municipal law. It is a type of a nuisance statute and is designed to protect neighboring landowners' right of peaceably enjoying their own properties. When an ordinance is challenged, the court must weigh several factors. These factors include the level of the nuisance involved, the frequency of the occurrences and whether any remedial actions can be taken to mitigate the nuisance.

Though one landowner can often complain, often a home owners association will become involved, or a petition is circulated among landowners. In these cases, an attorney experienced in municipal law might be helpful in drafting a petition, a complaint or taking the matter to court.

Source: Harbourside music dispute latest in town's favor Staff Writer, May 11, 2018

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