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NEWPORT BEACH : Plan Commission OKs Noise Rules

The Planning Commission has approved the city’s first comprehensive noise ordinance, passing the modified rules along to the City Council for final approval.

After three hours of discussion and public comment last week, the commission rejected a proposal to outlaw gas-powered leaf blowers, but restricted their use to between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Use of other property maintenance equipment, such as lawn mowers, would be allowed from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Complaints would be handled by police.

That rule may be modified before the ordinance reaches the council, planner Patrick Alford said, in light of testimony from residents living near Big Canyon Country Club who complained about early morning noise from green maintenance.

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“We’ll probably have to look at that again given the testimony we got. . . . It may not be the same when it goes to the City Council,” Alford said.

The commission also modified rules that would require quieter air conditioners, particularly on Balboa and Lido islands, by the year 2000.

Planners had recommended an exemption from the 55-decibel noise ceiling for existing units. But since many units on the islands, where lots are narrow, are believed to have been installed without permits or in violation of the existing noise limits, the ordinance was changed to allow the exemption only to units that were legally installed before the noise ceiling took effect in 1981.

Exemptions will be allowed for legally installed units that rate 65 decibels at the property line, if the property owner gets written consent from all affected property owners. The average automatic dishwasher operates at about 60 decibels.

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If the council passes the ordinance, it will bring together noise regulations that previously were scattered throughout ordinances governing other matters, such as public nuisances and construction permits.

The new plan would classify all properties in the city as residential, commercial or industrial and assign acceptable noise limits for each. Noise-generating activities in commercial or industrial areas would be expected to maintain the lower-level standards of residential areas if the sounds carry that far.

Under the regulations, daytime is 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., nighttime is 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.


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