PV, county differ on handling noise complaints
Town can quiet things down, but sheriff’s office cannot
It was about 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night just a few weeks ago, the park in Castle Canyon Mesa was host to an event with music that Mary Dahl could hear at her home two blocks away.
“I can understand every word the speakers are saying,” Dahl wrote in an email, noting that neighborhood dogs were barking and her cats were afraid. “What about the kids who are trying to sleep? What about the seniors who go to bed early? I have no idea how long this is going on. It is not an event that belongs in the middle of a residential area.”
Dahl wrote that she called Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office who told her that they can’t do much if there is a permit for the event. Attempts to reach Dahl via phone call were unsuccessful.
Had the event been within the authority of the Town of Prescott Valley, it would have been subject to the Town of Prescott Valley’s noise ordinance. Music coming from any residence, business, restaurant, hotel, dance hall, show, store or any place of public amusement, entertainment or accommodation that is played in a loud or unusual manner that becomes offensive, disturbs the sleep or peace and quiet or interferes with enjoyment of life or property is unlawful, according to the Town of Prescott Valley’s noise ordinance.
Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., “self-contained, portable, hand-held music or sound amplification systems shall not be operated on public property or public right-of-way in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator, or which causes a person to be aware of vibration accompanying the sound at a distance of 50 feet or more,” the ordinance states.
Prescott Valley Community Development Director Richard Parker spoke of the process of approving a car track some years ago. One of the concerns was the carrying of noise and the Town had the applicants hire a sound engineer, he said, noting they ran cars that had mufflers as well as those that did not and deciphered the decibel levels from various distances.
The sound may have diminished significantly after the 50-foot mark, but there were still phone calls from people complaining that they could hear it and said it sounded like bees, Parker said.
“Some people were offended by it, but we established a standard and we maintained that standard to where, as part of the use permit, we could bring up the engineer,” he said. “We did that periodically.”
However, while the ordinance governs sound and noise within the Town of Prescott Valley, Castle Canyon Mesa is within the jurisdiction of Yavapai County.
Prescott Valley might have rules and regulations regarding noise levels for sound amplification systems, but the county itself doesn’t, according to Yavapai County District Five Supervisor Jack Smith.
“It’s pretty open as long as it’s not disturbing anyone,” he said, noting that if something is disturbing a person’s own personal peace, they can have call for a deputy to show up at the source of the noise and have the matter wind up in civil court. However, since a matter like that needs a victim, the person making the complaint would be one, Smith said.
Parker said it helps to be up front and direct with people who are being loud, bringing up a person who was playing his guitar very loudly where he lived in Government Canyon.
“I approached him and asked if he could knock it off at 8:30, 9 p.m.,” Parker said, adding that the two of them became friends because the other was grateful Parker had gone and talked to him. “Most times if you approach the situation reasonably, people will be reasonable. If you approach the situation in a hostile way, then people are usually hostile back.”