A Resident’s Guide to Noise Rules & Etiquette

One of the many qualities that residents enjoy about the Ojai Valley is its tranquil setting. The City of Ojai recently adopted a noise ordinance designed to preserve this special setting. The ordinance establishes basic rules about the days and hours that certain noise-generating activities can occur. It also places limits on noise levels generated in residential and commercial zones. By applying these rules, residents and business owners can make a significant contribution to Ojai’s special quality-of-life.

The information below is designed to provide a helpful summary of the new noise regulations. Copies of the full ordinance are available at the City of Ojai Community Development Department, 401 S. Ventura Street. If you have any questions or we can be of assistance, please contact the Community Development Department directly at 646-5581 x112.

The following noise sources are specifically regulated by the ordinance. These noise sources must also comply with the noise level limits shown in Table 1, with the exception of some authorized construction activities.

Construction activities
Construction activities may be performed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, except for legal holidays. Please note one exception: residents who are working on their own home improvement projects may work on weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., providing the noise level limits are not exceeded.

Leaf blowers
Leaf blowers may be operated from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday, except legal holidays. While electric blowers are allowed in all zones, gas-powered blowers will only be allowed in non-residential zones after December 31, 1998. Other special provisions governing gas blowers include: (1) they may not be operated within 150 feet of residences, motels, schools and hospitals; and (2) they must be operated with their factory mufflers in good working order.

Please also note that blowing cuttings or debris on streets or neighboring properties is prohibited.

Power and garden tools
Lawnmowers and other home and gardening equipment that create loud sounds may be operated from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on legal holidays.

Loading and unloading activities
Delivery and loading activities that are of such volume that they could disturb an adjacent property are limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Pool equipment
All pool motor pumps and filters must be designed and constructed with sound attenuation devices. For specific requirements, please contact the City Building Inspector.

Refuse collection
Garbage and recycling trucks may operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Street sweeping
Street and parking lot sweepers may operate from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Motor vehicles
Racing an engine, allowing an engine to unnecessarily idle for more than ten minutes, or intentionally screeching tires when starting or stopping a vehicle, are all prohibited.

Car and burglar alarms
Car and burglar alarms may not be activated unnecessarily or emit sound for more than ten minutes.

Sound amplifying equipment
Radios, stereos, and other sound equipment may not be audible more than 35 feet from the source if on public land or the public right-of-way, unless part of a public event approved by the City. The only sounds that may be amplified are music and human speech. Radios and compact disc players may be operated on buses and trolleys, providing the sound cannot be heard by any other passenger.

Loud parties and assemblies
When a loud party or gathering occurs and the police are called to respond, the property owners and/or people responsible for the event can be held liable for the cost of any law enforcement services provided after the first police response. Such costs will only be incurred if the peace officer at the scene determines that a violation of the noise ordinance is actually occurring.

Table 1: Exterior Noise Level Limits

Noise Standard 15 Minutes per Hour 5 Minutes per Hour 1 Minute per Hour
Zones Day Night Day Night Day Night Day Night
Residential 55db 45db 60db 50db 65db 55db 70db 60db
Commercial & Industrial 65db 55db 70db 60db 75db 65db 80db 70db

This table shows the maximum noise levels that a person can generate on a neighboring residential or commercial property. The noise levels are expressed in decibels (db), a unit used to measure the amplitude of a sound. Because routine activities can generate decibels in excess of the adopted standard, an allowance has been made for minor increases on an hourly basis.

For example, a resident could generate as many as 70 decibels (measured at their neighbor’s property line) for one minute per hour during the day. Lawn mowers, electric blowers, and other common power tools used outside the home would be most likely to generate decibels in the 60 to 70 range (measured several feet away from the source). Please note that the day standard applies from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; the night standard from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Copies of the full ordinance are available at the City of Ojai Community Development Department, 401 S. Ventura Street. If you have any questions or if we can be of assistance, please contact the Community Development Department at 646-5581.