In the City of Angels there are many with big dreams, and big noises. In this blog, we will review the Los Angeles noise ordinance, how to submit a complaint to the city of Los Angeles, and how to deal with specific sounds.
Note: If it sounds like an emergency, or related to domestic violence or abuse, call 911 immediately.
Table of Contents
Types Of Noise Issues
“The responsibility for enforcement of the Noise Ordinance is now delegated to the Police Department, Department of Building and Safety, Department of Animal Regulation, and Bureau of Street Services.” –LAPD Website
Before you pick up that phone, take a deep breath and consider communicating with your neighbor. Read this post for some tips – remember that they are people too, and inviting the police to their home for noise could bring about larger consequences you may not wish upon them. If that is not an option:
Call the non-emergency line to report your complaint at 877-ASK-LAPD.
An officer will come out and advise the offender they are in violation and seek a voluntary compliance of stopping the noise. If necessary, they will complete a crime report or attempt arrest. If it is a place of business / corporate entity, they will prepare a complaint application.
While the LAPD has an online form, they request for you to call their non-emergency line for disturbances. This way they can visit the site, talk to the offender, and log the complaint at the time the crime is happening.
What happens if that does not work?
LA has a Noise Enforcement Team that is specially trained to more aggressively enforce the noise ordinance. They will not come out on the initial complaint, but if the noise is ongoing they will come out with specialized equipment to monitor the noise levels. Your police officer will escalate the case to them if needed, but if you have questions you can reach their team during business hours only at 213-996-1250.
For more information on specific sounds and actions you can take, read on.
“The Police Department is responsible for the enforcement of Noise Ordinance violations involving people–generated or controlled noises–which are considered disturbances of the peace.” –LAPD Website
If you hear gunshots, firecrackers, or any sounds of domestic abuse, these are not noise violations but serious crimes that should be reported immediately.
How excessive noise is determined:
The first question is what time of day this is happening. A typical ordinance prohibits loud noises between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. If the noise violation is happening outside these quiet hours, it does not mean it is okay. They will just change the decibel level that is considered an injunction. This formula is going to be based on what zone you are in (residential or commercial) and what the source of the noise is.
“Any noise level caused by such use or operation which exceeds the ambient noise level on the premises of any other occupied property, or if a condominium, apartment house, duplex, or attached business, within any adjoining unit, by more than five (5) decibels shall be a violation of the provisions of this section.”
To give you perspective, 5 decibels is less than the noise a pin dropping makes, so if you can hear it from your property it is likely in violation.
If you do not wish to call the police on your neighbor, check out our blog post on how to deal with neighbors playing loud music for some alternative solutions.
If your trash is within 200 feet of your residence, the trash can only be picked up between 6am – 9pm. If the trash is more than 200 feet from your residence, they can collect it at any time.
If you are experiencing a trash collection that violates these rules, you will need to call the police department through the process defined at the top of this page.
Is the problem that it is a single barking dog making noise or too many dogs on the same property? If it is too many dogs, this goes outside the parameters of noise violation and is an animal control issue. Either way, Animal Control in LA has an easy online form for you to submit the complaint:
There are acceptable hours for construction to be made, in which case the acceptable decibel levels are quite high. Allowable Construction Hours are Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays and National Holidays between 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sundays, no construction except for residents.
If construction is operating during these hours, or if the noise level is very high, call the police. A good rule of thumb is if you can turn on a vacuum cleaner and still hear the noise, it is too loud. If a sound that loud lasts for several minutes at a time, it could be impacting your health.
If the noise is coming from a building and it involves noises from permanently installed mechanical equipment (ex. air conditioning unit, a Jacuzzi, or a generator at a construction site), the noise will be enforced through the The Department of Building and Safety. We still recommend calling the police to report the initial noise and they will assist in properly escalating the case after reviewing the source of sound and speaking with the offending business.
From honking horns to loud music, cars can be a nuisance in your neighborhood. It can also be tricky to catch as the offender will likely leave the area before you can get police to respond. You should still call the police to report the disturbance. This way they will track patterns of issues and take it up with the right department to investigate different roadway practices needed in your area. This can sometimes be a lengthy process, so make sure to read up on how to soundproof your space to get noise reduction in your home quicker.
Note: In determining whether or not a noise violates this section, officers may consider the following factors: ▪ Level of the noise; ▪ Nature of the noise (usual or unusual ); ▪ Origin of the noise (natural or unnatural ); ▪ Level and intensity of any background noise; ▪ Proximity of the noise to sleeping facilities; ▪ Nature and zoning of the area; ▪ Density of inhabitation in the area; ▪ Time of day or night the noise occurs; ▪ Duration of the noise; ▪ Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant; ▪ Whether the noise is produced by commercial or non-commercial activity.
There is a lot of ambiguity in the rules, and ultimately the police officer is going to decide to file a citation or not. If you want to contest that, you can take it to court. You can read the noise code in its entirety here.
Depending on the severity of the noise, you can also consider soundproofing your space. This will prevent you from having to go through the police or the court systems, and can make your home comfortable no matter if the offender is continuing to make sounds. A disclaimer that soundproofing is very subjective and is often not the complete elimination of noises. It instead takes something loud and brings it down to a mere whisper so it easily fades into the background, allowing you to focus on other things.
Noise travels through vibration, which is carried through the air. So to stop noise, you must control the airflow. Noise generated outside, in a separate space from you, calls for soundproofing products. They stop noise from traveling through windows, ceilings, doors, and walls. Here are some examples:
Soundproof Window Inserts
Installing window inserts is an easy and effective way of soundproofing windows. Indow® Acoustic Grade window inserts can reduce up to 70% of outside noise when placed over single-pane windows and up to 50% of noise coming through double-pane windows.
Scott Sidler has been working with windows for years. He owns his own historic restoration company and runs the national The Craftsman Blog, which he calls his “laboratory, classroom, playground”.
He jumped at the chance to play with our Acoustic Grade window inserts in his shop. Check out this video for a demonstration on the noise reduction Indow inserts can provide, and imagine what this sort of impact the noise reduction will have on your life!
Best of all, you can self measure these window inserts and get them delivered to your home without the need for outside help.
Look through your space and find areas where you see gaps between things like your door frame and the wall. While it seems like a small area that might be insignificant, sealing up all gaps will help reduce the noise. Consider it like a mission to find a leak in the bathtub. The leak still happens with even a pinprick. Standard caulks will work, but Green Glue sealant has a specialty formula for acoustic damping.
Whether you have filed a complaint with the LAPD or are wanting to take matters into your own hands, we would love to hear from you. Head over to our Facebook or Instagram and tell us about the noise you are experiencing. Together we can improve the world of noise awareness and create comfort for us all.
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