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Laguna Beach addresses community noise complaints

The intersection of South Coast Highway and Broadway in Laguna Beach.
The intersection of South Coast Highway and Broadway in Laguna Beach. Loud vehicle exhaust enforcement was discussed at the Laguna Beach City Council meeting on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Complaints of excessive noise generated by vehicles with deafening exhaust systems and by the sounds of live entertainment at downtown restaurants were discussed Tuesday by the Laguna Beach City Council.

“Noise is a pollution just like sewage,” resident Walker Reed told the council. “I am walking up Coast Highway, and little girls are crying because a yellow Ferrari goes by just blazing. And then when they stop, they go, ‘Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.’ It’s over the top with noise.”

The Laguna Beach police department has made loud exhaust enforcement a focus recently. The department participated in a joint effort with other coastal Orange County law enforcement agencies in May to address loud exhaust and speeding violations.

Police Chief Jeff Calvert said his department again teamed up with the Huntington Beach and Newport Beach police last week for a loud exhaust enforcement exercise.

“We definitely hear the community and understand the concerns,” Calvert said. “We’ve deployed message boards, police decoy vehicles, and officers did an outstanding job issuing 2,200 speed and loud exhaust citations in 2020, and they’ve issued nearly 850 citations this year.”

Calvert added that law enforcement agencies Orange County coast continue to pursue change to loud exhaust law that would allow for stricter penalties.

Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and Councilwoman Toni Iseman both said they had communicated with residents who raised the issue of loud music coming from restaurants in downtown Laguna Beach.

Iseman asked about the permitting for Hennessey’s, which city officials say is one of two restaurants sent letters advising them of noise complaints.

“Hennessey’s does have a temporary use permit for outdoor live music, but the music has to meet the decibel range of 70 decibels, and it’s supposed to stop by 10 p.m.,” Community Development Director Marc Wiener said. “So we did send a letter to Hennessey’s today and to another restaurant in the downtown, which we had some complaints about noise, and we are going to follow up with phone calls tomorrow and meet with them, if necessary.”

Also sent a letter for noise complaints was the Wharf, Wiener confirmed. Both Hennessy and the Wharf are located on Ocean Avenue.

Mayor Bob Whalen echoed the sentiments of his council colleagues in his remarks.

“As a resident of North Laguna, I will confirm with both Councilmember Iseman and Mayor Pro Tem Kempf in saying it was not a good weekend for noise …and I think we need to do more than send a letter,” Whalen said. “We need to have somebody out there in the evenings and shut them down, if they’re violating. It was quite evident. It was not just Friday and Saturday night. I want to say it was Thursday night, too. It was several nights.”

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