Guide to Laws About Noise in the Los Angeles Area

NoiseIf 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.

Also see What City Am I In?

1. General Restrictions

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 Los Angeles, 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, unnecessary, 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

What are the noise rules in unincorporated LA County?

In unincorporated communities in LA County:7LACMC 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.

2. Parties

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 $8,000.8LAMC 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.”9LAMC 41.58

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

See our full Guide to Laws about Events and Parties

3. Construction, maintenance, and other noisy activities

Is there a limit to how loud a car or motorcycle can be?

In California, cars may not make noise louder than 95 decibels, and motorcycles may not make noise louder than 80 decibels.10CA Veh Code Sec 27151, 27200-27207

What time can construction start in Los Angeles, and how loud can it be?

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

Powered equipment or tools may not be louder than 75 decibels.12LAMC 112.05

What time can gardeners or maintenance start work in Los Angeles?

From Los Angeles Municipal Code SEC. 112.04:

POWERED EQUIPMENT INTENDED FOR REPETITIVE USE IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS AND OTHER MACHINERY, EQUIPMENT, AND DEVICES.

(a) Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. of the following day, no person shall operate any lawn mower, backpack blower, lawn edger, riding tractor, or any other machinery, equipment, or other mechanical or electrical device, or any hand tool which creates a loud, raucous or impulsive sound, within any residential zone or within 500 feet of a residence.

(b) Except as to the equipment and operations specifically mentioned and related elsewhere in this Chapter or for emergency work as that term is defined in Section 111.01(d), and except as to aircraft, tow tractors, aircraft auxiliary power units, trains and motor vehicles in their respective operations governed by State or federal regulations, no person shall operate or cause to be operated any machinery, equipment, tools, or other mechanical or electrical device, or engage in any other activity in such manner as to create any noise which would cause the noise level on the premises of any other occupied property, or, if a condominium, apartment house, duplex, or attached business, within any adjoining unit, to exceed the ambient noise level by more than five (5) decibels.

Are gas powered leaf blowers illegal in Los Angeles?

For both environmental reasons and to mitigate noise issues, gas powered blowers may not be used within 500 feet of a residence at anytime.

“Both the user of such a blower as well as the individual who contracted for the services of the user, if any, shall be subject to the requirements of and penalty provisions for this ordinance. Violation of the provisions of this subsection shall be punishable as an infraction in an amount not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), notwithstanding the graduated fines set forth in LAMC § 11.00(m).”13LAMC SEC. 112.04

See more about environmental related laws in Los Angeles.

What time can construction start in unincorporated Los Angeles County?

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 can be done 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.

Related Pages

Share the Legal Info With Your Friends: