School Band Flap Has Its Day in Court : Lawsuit: Lawyer for Olympic swimmer Janet Evans' parents urges judge to enforce noise restrictions to stop early morning practices at El Dorado High. A ruling could be made next week.


The battle with the band landed in court Friday as an attorney representing the parents of Olympic swimmer Janet Evans urged a judge to effectively stop the El Dorado High School marching band from conducting early morning practices near the Evans home.

Paul and Barbara Evans, who have lived in the home adjacent to the school football field for 24 years, say the band's drumming has grown unbearably loud in the past year and exceeds the noise level of previous years. They want the city to enforce its noise ordinance--by court order if necessary.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Leonard Goldstein could rule on the case next week.

"We're hoping for the best," Barbara Evans said outside the courtroom. "It's very much of a problem not only for us but for other people. It's very psychologically disabling."

Paul Evans did not attend the hearing. Janet Evans graduated from the high school in 1989 and no longer lives at home.

Some members of the school's marching band attended the Friday hearing.

"It makes me angry," said 18-year-old Kaci Kaufman, a senior at the school. "I played at a performance when Janet Evans was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It seems outrageous that her parents would reciprocate this way."

Added 18-year-old Tricia Emry: "We've been practicing there for 20 years. I don't see why things should change."

But the Evanses see it another way. The couple asked the judge to order Placentia to enforce its noise ordinance, which prohibits outdoor levels from exceeding 50 decibels. The Evanses contend the noise from the band's drum corps was measured at 85 decibels from inside their home.

A change in the noise ordinance last year made it legal for the band to practice as early as 7 a.m. instead of 8:45 a.m., although it already had been doing so for many years.

The Evanses' attorney, William B. Hanley, argued that the city should not have exempted the band from the noise ordinance in the first place, contending the move violated the city's General Plan.

But City Attorney Carol B. Tanenbaum said the city's ordinance is valid: "The mere fact that the noise exemption results in an intrusion of sound at a certain time and during a certain season does not mean that a fundamental right has been violated."

Tanenbaum said the problem really is between the Evanses and the school and should not involve the city.

Still pending is a separate lawsuit filed by the Evanses against the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, the high school, the band's booster club and the band's conductor.

School district officials contended they have tried to settle the dispute with the couple and said the band has no choice but to practice on the football field. The Evanses would like to see practices take place on a lower field farther away from their home.

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