San Antonio, TX - Sound Ordinance

This code is current through June 4, 2009.

Entire code available at: http://www.sanantonio.gov/codesrch.asp?res=1024&ver=true


Part II, Chapter 21.

Article III, Noise.

Division 1: Generally

Sec. 21-51. Definitions and standards.

Sec. 21-52. Noise nuisance enumeration.

Sec. 21-53. Vibration.

Sec. 21-55. Exceptions.

Sec. 21-56. Method of noise measurement.

Sec. 21-57. Enforcement.

Sec. 21-58. Penalties.

Sec. 21-59. Identification of violator.

Sec. 21-60. River Walk standards.

Sec. 21-61. Appointment of abatement officers.

Division 2: Quiet Zones

Sec. 21-66. Created.

Sec. 21-67. Display of signs and placards.

Sec. 21-68. Creation of “noise nuisance” therein.

Division 3: Party, Gathering, Event

Sec. 21-80. Definitions.

Sec. 21-81. Cancellation.

Sec. 21-82. Expiration.

Sec. 21-83. Revocation or suspension.

Sec. 21-84. Retention of application and copy.


DIVISION 1. GENERALLY


Sec. 21-51. Definitions and standards.

[As used in this division the following words and terms shall have the meanings respectively ascribed:]

A-weighted sound level shall mean the sound pressure level in decibels as measured on a sound level meter using the A-weighting network. The level so read is designated dB(A) or dBA.

Daytime/evening shall mean the hours between six o'clock a.m. and ten o'clock p.m., Sunday through Thursday and six o'clock a.m. and eleven o'clock p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Director shall mean Director of Housing and Neighborhood Services Department.

Impulsive sound shall mean sound of short duration, usually less than one second, with an abrupt onset and rapid decay. Examples of sources of impulsive sound include explosions, drop forge impacts, and the discharge of firearms.

Leq shall mean an average measure of continuous noise that has the equivalent acoustic energy of the fluctuating signal over the same time period. The time period of monitoring will be continuous over any two (2) hours and will use the A-weighting network reported in decibel units.

Nighttime shall mean the hours between ten o'clock p.m. and six o'clock a.m., Sunday through Thursday and eleven o'clock p.m. and six o'clock a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Noise nuisance shall mean any loud, irritating, vexing or disturbing sound originating from a nearby property under separate ownership which causes injury, discomfort, or distress of a person of reasonable nervous sensibilities, or any sound that exceeds the maximum permitted sound levels specified in subsections 21-52(a) (6)(b), (9)--(12), and 21-60(b).

Sound level shall mean the weighted sound pressure level obtained by the use of a sound level meter and frequency weighting network such as A, B or C as specified in American National Standards Institute specifications for sound level meters (ANSI S1.4-1971). If the frequency weighting employed is not indicated, the A-weighting shall apply.

Sound level meter shall mean an instrument which includes a microphone, amplifier, RMS detector, integrator or time averages, output meter, and weighting network used to measure sound pressure levels.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01; Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 1, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-52. Noise nuisance enumeration.

(a) The following acts, among others not hereinafter enumerated, are declared to be "noise nuisances," and are unlawful and in violation of the provisions of this division when such acts are done or accomplished or carried on in such a manner, or with such volume, intensity, or with continued duration, so as to annoy, to distress, or to disturb the quiet, comfort, or repose of a person of reasonable nervous sensibilities, within the vicinity or hearing thereof, or so as to endanger or injure the safety or health of humans or animals, or so as to interfere with the physical well being of humans or animals, or so as to endanger or injure personal or real property:

(1) The playing or permitting or causing the playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, juke box, nickelodeon, musical instrument, sound amplifier or similar device which produces, reproduces, or amplifies sound.

(2) Any loud or vociferous language or any soliciting for, or description of, any amusement house, moving picture theater, or other like place of amusement, or for the performance therein, in the entrance thereto, the foyer or lobby thereof, or on the sidewalks adjoining the same.

(7) The crying, calling, or shouting, in person or by a mechanical device, or the use of any whistle, rattle, bell, gong, clapper, hammer, drum, horn, loudspeaker or phonograph with or without an amplifier, hand organ, or other devices or instruments, musical or otherwise.

(8) The raucous shouting, whistling, yelling, singing, hooting, or crying of peddlers, hawkers, vendors or any other persons.

(9) The making of noise which exceeds sixty-three (63) decibels on residential zoned property as defined by Chapter 35 (Unified Development Code), when measured from property under separate ownership.

(10) The making of noise which exceeds seventy (70) decibels on business zoned property as defined by Chapter 35 (Unified Development Code), when measured from property under separate ownership.

(11) The making of noise which exceeds seventy-two (72) decibels on industrial zoned property as defined by Chapter 35 (Unified Development Code), when measured from property under separate ownership.

(12) The making of noise which exceeds eighty-five (85) decibels using the Leq method of noise measure for noise emanating from entertainment zoned property as defined by Chapter 35 (Unified Development Code), when measured from property under separate ownership. Any adjacent property owned, leased, controlled or managed by any person or entity or any affiliate that directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or shares common control with the other entity that has an ownership interest or lease interest in the monitored property shall not be considered property under separate ownership for purposes of determining the boundaries of the noise source property in an entertainment district.

(b) Special noise corrections. Corrections shall be made to the basic octave band levels specified in subsections 21-52(a)(10) through (12) and section 21-60(b) for the specific conditions listed in accordance with the following table, designated as Table 1, except that nighttime corrections shall not apply in the River Walk area.

(c) River Walk Area corrections. Subsections (a)(10) through (12) above shall not apply in the River Walk Area, which shall be, regulated by the noise provisions in section 21-60.

__________

TABLE INSET:

TABLE 1
Corrections Permitted to Basic Octave Band Levels
Noise is Present at Nighttime.......... Subtract 7 dB
Noise Contains Strong Pure-Tone Components or is Impulsive (Meter reading changes at a rate greater than 10 dB per second) Subtract 7 dB
Noise Has an "On Time" of No More Than: And an "Off Time" Between Successive "On Times" of at Least:
0.5 minutes 1 hour
5.0 minutes 1 hour Add 10 Decibels
10.0 minutes 2 hour to Permitted
20.0 minutes 4 hour Levels

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)

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Sec. 21-53. Vibration.

It shall be unlawful for any person to create, maintain or cause any ground or airborne vibration which is perceptible without instruments at any point on any affected property adjoining the property in which the vibration source is located.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)


Sec. 21-55. Exceptions.

The provisions of this division shall not apply to:

(1) The emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to an emergency; or

(5) Sound generated at a scheduled stadium event; by parade spectators and participants on the parade route during a permitted parade; by outdoor celebration participants sponsored or co-sponsored by the city for the general welfare of the public; by patrons and participants using cannons and gunfire during historical battle reenactments for which a pyrotechnic permit has been obtained and the explosives have been inspected and approved by the fire marshall; by pyrotechnic displays that are inspected and approved by the city fire marshall.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)


Sec. 21-56. Method of noise measurement.

Whenever portions of this chapter prohibit noise over a certain decibel limit, measurement of said noise shall be made with a decibel meter meeting the standards prescribed by the American National Standards Institute. The instruments shall be maintained in calibration and good working order. Calibration corrections shall be employed in meeting the response specifications prior to every sampling of noise. Measurements recorded shall be taken so as to provide a proper representation of the noise being measured. The microphone shall be positioned so as not to create any unnatural enhancement or diminution of the measured noise. A windscreen for the microphone shall be used. Traffic, aircraft and other transportation noise sources and other background noises shall not be considered in taking measurements except where such background noise interferes with the primary noise being measured. Times when the level of primary noise being measured does not exceed that of the background noise shall be considered as "off times" of the primary noise in determining the corrections from the correction table found in subsection 21-52(b). Except as provided in subsection 21-52(a)(12), measurements may be taken at a point on adjacent public or private property or on either side of an adjacent public right-of-way at or near the boundary line of the property where the noise is generated.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)


Sec. 21-57. Enforcement.

(a) Administrative stop order.

(1) The director, his/her designee, or duly authorized noise abatement officers may issue an order to any person having possession or control over noise generating property to immediately halt any sound which exposes any person, except those excluded in subsection (2) below, to continuous or impulsive noise levels in excess of those shown in Table 1. Within five (5) days following issuance of such an order, the director or his/her duly authorized representative may apply to the appropriate court for an injunction to replace the administrative stop order.

(2) No stop order shall be issued if the only persons exposed to sound levels in excess of those listed in Table 1 are exposed as a result of:

a. Trespass; or

b. Invitation upon private property by the person causing or permitting the sound.

(b) Seizure of noise producing property. The director or his/her duly authorized agents are hereby authorized to apply to any magistrate for an administrative search warrant for the purpose of entering private property to investigate and identify noise nuisance producing devices, machines, instruments, or objects. Such identified property may be seized to summarily abate the noise nuisance if:

(1) A person who is cited for the subject noise violation has been convicted of a violation of any provision of this article within the preceding twelve (12) months, or has been declared to be an "habitual noise nuisance violator" within the preceding twenty-four (24) months; or

(2) The location of the noise nuisance has been declared an habitual noise nuisance source by the director, after appropriate notice to the real property owner or person in possession of the subject noise-source real property, of an administrative hearing to be held for the purpose of hearing evidence and determining whether the subject location is in fact an "habitual noise nuisance source." Upon finding a location to be an "habitual noise nuisance source," the noise producing property shall be immediately seized at the time of any subsequent violations whether or not there is a previous noise nuisance conviction associated with the location.

Such seizures shall be for the purpose of assuring continued cessation of the noise nuisance after the departure of the noise abatement peace officers by securing the instrumentality of the noise nuisance temporarily. The noise producing device, machine, instrument, or object shall be returned to the owner or person proving the right of possession, or to his/her authorized agent, not sooner than twenty-four (24) hours after seizure. Any disputed ownership or right of possession shall be resolved at a property disposition hearing before a magistrate of the city. Seizure of noise nuisance producing property shall be accomplished in addition to and not in lieu of municipal court prosecution and/or a civil suit for injunctive relief and civil penalties.

(d) Declaration of habitual noise nuisance producer. After producing noise measured at decibels in excess of the maximum allow by this article on three (3) separate days within a 12-month period, the noise producer shall be given notice of an administrative hearing before a municipal court magistrate for the purpose of introducing evidence so that the magistrate can make a determination of whether or not the cited noise producer is an "habitual noise nuisance producer," and if the magistrate so finds, a written declaration of said finding shall be signed by the magistrate and kept on file by the abatement officer for a period of one year.

(e) Declaration of habitual noise nuisance location. After the production of noise in excess of that allowed by this article by anyone at the same address or property location on three (3) separate days within a 12-month period, the owner or lessee or person in possession shall be given notice of an administrative hearing before a municipal court magistrate for the purpose of introducing evidence so that the magistrate can make a determination of whether or not the location is an "habitual noise nuisance source," and if the magistrate so finds, a written declaration of said finding shall be signed by the magistrate and shall be kept on file by the abatement officer for a period of one (1) year.

(f) Seizure. If the magistrate determines that the noise producer is an "habitual noise nuisance producer" or that the location is an "habitual noise nuisance source," the noise producing instrument, equipment, or other noise producing item used by the habitual noise nuisance producer may be immediately seized at the time of a subsequent decibel measurement in excess of that allowed by this article. At the time of such seizure, a written notice of the right to an immediate administrative hearing before a municipal court magistrate shall be issued to the habitual noise producer or owner or person in possession of the habitual noise nuisance source. The hearing shall be for the purpose of determining if a noise nuisance actually occurred on which the abatement officer based his seizure, and to voice any complaints about the manner of the seizure. If the noise produced is determined by the magistrate not to constitute a noise nuisance, the subject property shall be immediately delivered to the person from whom it was seized.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01; Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 1, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-58. Penalties.

(a) It shall be unlawful for a person to do or perform any act prohibited by this article, and it shall be unlawful for a person to fail to do or perform any act required by this article. A violation of this article is a class C misdemeanor offense, no culpable mental state or criminal intent is required, and upon conviction, a person shall be fined an amount not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00) and not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).

(b) Unless otherwise specifically provided for in this article, if it is found that a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly violated any provision of this article, then upon conviction a person shall be fined an amount not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00) and not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) except that, in the event a person has once previously been convicted under this article, the person shall be fined an amount not less than two hundred dollars ($200.00) and shall be fined not less than three hundred dollars ($300.00) for a third conviction and for each conviction thereafter.

(c) Nothing in this section shall limit the remedies available to the city in seeking to enforce the provisions of this chapter. Each day's violation thereof shall constitute a separate offense.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01; Ord. No. 2008-03-06-0168, § 1, 3-6-08)


Sec. 21-59. Identification of violator.

The persons responsible for violations of this division are identified as follows:

(1) At private residences. Any adult resident present at the time of the offense, and any adult guest or adult trespasser with the ability to control the level of noise at the time of the offense when no adult resident is present at the time of the offense.

(2) At business locations. Any business owner, operator, manager, employee in charge, and all persons in control or in possession of the noise nuisance generating instrument or property at the time of the offense.

(3) At any location with an unattended noise nuisance producing machine, device, instrument, child, animal or combination of same. Any person who leaves unattended any machine, instrument, device, child, animal, or any combination of same, which thereafter commences producing noise in violation of this article.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01; Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 1, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-60. River Walk standards.

In addition to the foregoing noise regulations, the following acts are declared to be noise nuisances when occurring in the River Walk area and it shall be unlawful for establishments located in the River Walk area, and the owners, managers, or officers thereof:

(1) To place or cause to be placed speakers or amplified music on or near the patio of the establishment or in any other location outside the enclosed building on any side of the premises which can be seen from the San Antonio River;

(2) To create or allow the creation of noise from the establishment which exceeds a decibel level of seventy-two (72) dBA using the A frequency weighting and eighty (80) dBC using the C frequency weighting. This section is intended to prohibit the stated noise levels under both frequency measurements; and

(3) To, if the establishment has been declared a habitual noise nuisance under section 21-57 of this chapter, and in addition to the remedies provided in section (e) thereof, keep any windows and doors to the establishment open after the hour of 10:00 p.m. except as necessary to provide for entry and exit to and from the establishment for a period of ninety (90) days from the date of declaration.

For purposes of this chapter, the term, "River Walk area" shall have the meaning assigned to it in Chapter 35, Article III of this Code.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)


Sec. 21-61. Appointment of abatement officers.

The city manager, his/her designee, or the director is authorized to appoint state licensed peace officers as "abatement officers" for nuisance abatement duties, and said officers shall report to the director or his/her designee as members of the staff of said department. Each peace officer appointment shall terminate with the termination of the nuisance abatement duty for which the peace officer was hired.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01; Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 1, 4-5-07)

Secs. 21-62--21-65. Reserved.


DIVISION 2. QUIET ZONES


Sec. 21-66. Created.

(a) Schools and other institutions of learning. All territory embraced within a distance of two hundred and fifty (250) feet of the real property upon which is situated any public or private school or institution of learning is hereby declared to be "Quiet Zone" during the period of time the schools and institutions of learning are in session.

(b) Hospitals and sanitariums. All territory embraced within a distance of two hundred and fifty (250) feet of the real property upon which is situated any hospital, sanitarium or other like institution for the treatment of sick persons, public and private, shall be held to be, and are declared to be "Quiet Zones."

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)


Sec. 21-67. Display of signs and placards.

It shall be the duty of the director to place and maintain, or cause to be placed and maintained, on lampposts or other such post or object in some conspicuous place on every street, avenue, and alley in the vicinity of every school or other institution of learning, public and private, and every sanitarium, hospital or other like institution, public and private, signs or placards which shall indicate that the same is a "quiet zone." The signs or placards shall be placed on such streets, avenues and alleys at a distance of not less than two hundred fifty (250) feet in every direction from the real property upon which is situated, any school or other institution of learning, or any hospital, sanitarium or other like institution for the treatment of sick persons. The signs or placards shall read in a manner similar to, but not restricted to the following: "School--Quiet Zone," or "Hospital--Quiet Zone." Where proper and lawful, the signs or placards designating a quiet zone may also designate the lawful speed limit in such school, or other institution of learning, zone or area in a manner similar to, but not restricted to, the following: "School--Quiet Zone--Speed Limit M.P.H."

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01; Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 1, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-68. Creation of "noise nuisance" therein.

The making, causing, or creating, or permitting or allowing to be made, caused, or created, any loud, vexing, irritating or disturbing noise which interferes with the operations or workings of any school, or other institution of learning, public or private, or hospital, sanitarium or other like institution for the treatment of sick persons, public or private, situated within an area designated as a "Quiet Zone" is hereby declared to be a "noise nuisance," unlawful and prohibited.

(Ord. No. 94706, § 2(Attach. A), 9-13-01)

Secs. 21-69--21-79. Reserved.


DIVISION 3. PARTY, GATHERING, EVENT


Sec. 21-80. Definitions.

Officer shall mean a police, peace, or abatement officer.

Party, gathering or event shall mean a group of five (5) or more persons who have assembled or are assembling in a manner so as to create a substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property. This includes, but is not limited to, excessive noise or traffic, fights, and/or disturbances of the peace.

Person responsible for the party, gathering or event shall mean:

(1) Any adult person in actual or lawful control or possession of the premises;

(2) Any adult person who organized the party, gathering or event; or

(3) The parent or guardian having custody or control of any minor responsible for the party, gathering or event regardless of whether the parent or guardian was present at the time of the party, gathering or event.

Reasonable costs may include:

(1) The salary of the each responding officer, at the salary then in effect for each classification of each individual officer, for the amount of time actually spent at the location in responding to the party, gathering, or event;

(2) The actual cost of any medical treatment to injured officers;

(3) The cost of repairing any damaged city equipment or property; and

(4) A one hundred fifty dollar ($150.00) administrative fee.

(Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 2, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-81. Persons responsible for party liable for city costs.

(a) Should an officer respond to a party, gathering or large event and while at the location determines that there is a substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property, any person responsible for the party, gathering or event shall be liable for the reasonable costs of any second or subsequent response by any police officer to that same incident or for a response to the same location for another party, gathering or event within sixty (60) days.

(b) If two (2) or more persons are responsible for the party, gathering or event such persons shall be jointly and severally liable for the reasonable costs of a second or subsequent response.

(c) The liability imposed by this section may be in addition to any civil or criminal penalties or fines.

(Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 2, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-82. Notice of liability.

(a) Upon determining that the party, gathering or event is a substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of private or public property, the responding officer shall notify any person responsible for the party, gathering or event that a second response the same day or subsequent response within sixty (60) days from the date of the current party, gathering or event will result in liability for the reasonable costs of the second or subsequent response.

(b) The city shall notify any person responsible for the party, gathering or event of the reasonable costs within sixty (60) days of each second or subsequent response. The reasonable costs for multiple subsequent responses may be included in one statement. The notice shall be delivered to the address the person responsible provides to the responding officer.

(Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 2, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-83. Exceptions and limitations.

(a) The costs of a second or subsequent response shall be waived if any person responsible for the party, gathering or event initiated the request for a police response and assisted the officers in dispersing persons at the party, gathering or event.

(b) The costs assessed for each second or subsequent response shall not exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) per response.

(Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 2, 4-5-07)


Sec. 21-84. Hearing procedures.

(a) A person liable for the costs of a response may, within ten (10) days of receipt of notice of the costs imposed, request a hearing with an administrative hearing officer duly appointed by the city manager or his/her designee.

(b) Failure of the person liable for the costs to timely request a hearing or failure to appear at a scheduled hearing shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing or to challenge the validity or amount of the costs imposed and shall be an admission of liability.

(c) A hearing shall be scheduled as soon as practicable but within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the request for hearing. The hearing officer shall have authority to administer oaths and to issue orders compelling the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, such orders to be enforced by a municipal court.

(d) The hearing shall be conducted to determine whether there is a sufficient factual and legal basis to impose the costs of the police, peace, or abatement officer response and the reasonableness of the amount. All parties to the hearing shall have the right to present evidence. The record of witness testimony may be preserved for appellant review by the use of an audio tape recording or a videotape recording.

(e) The hearing officer shall issue a written order stating whether or not the person is liable for the costs, and the amount of the reasonable costs. The order shall be filed with the municipal court director.

(f) Costs imposed under this section are due and payable upon the expiration of the period to request a hearing or upon notice of the hearing officer's decision if a hearing is requested. Costs shall accrue interest at a rate of ten (10) percent per annum, or as allowed by law, from the date of assessment until paid in full.

(g) A person found liable for the costs of a second or subsequent response may appeal the decision to the municipal court by filing an appeal petition with the municipal court clerk not later than thirty (30) days after the order is filed. The appeal hearing shall be scheduled to occur within thirty (30) days of the filing of the appeal petition. The appeal hearing before a municipal court judge shall be an administrative proceeding for the purpose of affirming or reversing the order issued by the hearing officer based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision of the municipal court judge shall be final and shall not be appealable.

(h) Neither a notice of intent to appeal nor the filing of an appeal petition shall stay the enforcement and collection of the hearing officer's decision unless the service of the notice of appeal is preceded by the posting of a bond with the municipal court clerk in an amount set by a municipal court judge.

(Ord. No. 2007-04-05-0371, § 2, 4-5-07)