Noise

Guide to Laws About Noise in the Los Angeles Area

Noise
If that party next door is getting out of hand (or your party is getting lit and you hear the cops at the door), here’s what you need to know about the law.

What are the general noise restrictions in the Los Angeles area?

Throughout the state of California it is a crime to create a “disturbance of the peace” by maliciously creating a “loud and unreasonable noise.” Violations may result in up to 90 days in county jail and/or fine of up to $400.1Penal Code 415

It is also a crime to cause or maintain a “public nuisance” which interferes with the “comfortable enjoyment of life or property” by a community.2Penal Code 370, 372 Violations of this are generally a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or fine of up to $1000.3Penal Code 19

And a noise offender can also be sued for a public nuisance, or for a “private” nuisance where the offense is only against one individual.4Civil Code 3479, 3480, 3481

More specifically, in the city of LA, no person may create or allow to continue any “loud or raucous noise” which “unreasonably interfere[s] with the peace and quiet” of others5LAMC 41.57; see also LAMC 116.01

Prohibition on “Loud, unnecesssary, and unusual noise”6LAMC 116.01:
It is illegal “for any person to willfully make or continue, or cause to be made or continued, any loud, unnecessary, and unusual noise which disturbs the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area. The standard which may be considered in determining whether a violation of the provisions of this section exists may include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) The level of noise;
(b) Whether the nature of the noise is usual or unusual;
(c) Whether the origin of the noise is natural or unnatural;
(d) The level and intensity of the background noise, if any;
(e) The proximity of the noise to residential sleeping facilities;
(f) The nature and zoning of the area within which the noise emanates;
(g) The density of the inhabitation of the area within which the noise emanates;
(h) The time of the day and night the noise occurs;
(i) The duration of the noise;
(j) Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant; and
(k) Whether the noise is produced by a commercial or noncommercial activity.

In general, noise shall not significantly exceed ambient levels. Ambient Noise is the “composite of noise from all sources near and far in a given environment, exclusive of occasional and transient intrusive noise sources and of the particular noise source or sources to be measured. Ambient noise shall be averaged over a period of at least 15 minutes at a location and time of day comparable to that during which the measurement is taken of the particular noise source being measured.”

What time does noise need to stop in Los Angeles?

There is not necessarily a specific time, but night time levels of noise are generally required to be lower than during the day. In this chart, daytime levels are to be used from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and nighttime levels from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. dB = Decibel.
PRESUMED AMBIENT NOISE LEVEL (dB)
ZONE
DAY
NIGHT
A1, A2, RA, RE, RS, RD, RW1, RW2, R1, R2, R3, R4, and R5
50
40
P, PB, CR, C1, C1.5, C2, C4, C5, and CM
60
55
M1, MR1, and MR2
60
55
M2 and M3
65
65

 

Are there specific rules about loud parties?

Yes. In the city of LA it is illegal to have “loud or unruly” gatherings. This includes anything from blocking the street or sidewalk, drinking in public and/or public intoxication, fighting, public urination or defecation, vandalism, littering, etc. Both the party host AND the homeowner (if they are not the same person) can be prosecuted. The penalty is up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $8,000.7LAMC 41.58.1

Also if the police have to come back a second time after already responding to a “loud party,” they may charge a “Second Response Service Fee.”8LAMC 41.58

For more on noise regulations in the city of LA, see LAMC Chapter 11.

What are the noise rules in unincorporated LA County?

In unincorporated communities in LA County:9LACMC Section 12.08.390

residential areas should not be louder than 45 decibels at night* and 50 decibels during the day*

commercial areas should not be louder than 55 decibels at night* and 60 decibels during the day*

industrial areas should not be louder than 70 decibels at any time

*Note: Nighttime is defined as 10p – 7am, and daytime is 7am – 10p.

What laws are there on specific noisy items or activities?

Throughout California
In the city of Los Angeles:

“the operation or maintenance of any device, instrument, vehicle, or machinery in violation of any provision of this chapter, which operation or maintenance causes discomfort or annoyance to reasonable persons or which endangers the comfort, repose, health, or peace of residents in the area, shall be deemed and is declared to be a public nuisance and may be subject to abatement summarily by a restraining order or injunction issued by a court order of competent jurisdiction.”

  • No construction work is permitted between the hours of 9pm – 7am. A person who knowingly and willfully violates this law is guilty of a misdemeanor.11LAMC 41.40
  • Gas-powered leaf blowers may not be used within 500 feet of a residence.12LAMC 112.04(C)
  • Powered equipment or tools may not be louder than 75 decibels.13LAMC 112.05
  • “Loud or unruly gatherings” are illegal. (See above)
In unincorporated Los Angeles County
  • Construction is not allowed between 7p – 7am, or on Sundays or holidays.14LACMC 12.08.440

Is helicopter noise regulated?

No. But there are proposals to do that. You can report helicopter noise in LA County here.

RESOURCES

What can you do about noise problems? Call the LAPD non-emergency line: (877) ASK-LAPD (275-5273)

Or for complaints of early trash pick-ups, early deliveries, early construction and music emitting from night clubs, you can contact the Noise Enforcement Team at 213-996-1250.

What about barking dogs? All barking dog complaints are handled by the City’s Animal Care and Control Department. Barking dog complaints must be submitted in writing to your local Animal Care and Control Center with the name, address, and telephone number of the complaining party, a description of the nuisance, as well as name and address of the dog owner. See more here.

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