City Council Supports Updates To Noise Control Ordinance

Jul 29, 2015

Pittsburgh officers rolling past loud parties and unauthorized construction will be able to cite residents' complaints as part of a new three-strike system with the city's disruption ordinance.

In a preliminary vote, Pittsburgh City Council gave unanimous approval Wednesday to legislation aiming to better regulate the city’s noise control that replaces old language and better defines residential noise violations as any “sound that annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities.”

Officers already use decibel reading technology that restrict noise between non-residential premises, including sound clearly audible from 75 feet. Noise must not exceed 65 decibels during the day and 55 at night, unamplified, and 75 and 65 respectively, if amplified. To account for different sound levels in each neighborhood, noise must not exceed 65 decibels or 3 decibels over the existing background noise.

City Council President Bruce Kraus first introduced the bill on July 21. He said Wednesday's amendments replace the original language with new, clearer language “to dissipate any confusion,” Kraus said.

“Every resident is now covered, every residential property, regardless of where you’re zoned," he said. "That was incredibly important, especially for a booming Downtown.”

Penalties will now fall under the city’s Disruptive Properties Ordinance. If convicted, the violation would count as one of three strikes towards earning a "disruptive property" designation from the city.

The bill won't supersede the state’s existing codes for bars and motorcycles. The amended bill also covers areas of the city that have a rising residential population, Kraus said.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris said she’s relieved to see a bill preliminarily passed after years of frustration dealing with noise control.

“I’m so happy that it finally came forward, and I really think we have (legislation) now that the police will be able to sink their teeth into to get rid of some of these issues that we’re having out in the communities,” she said.

Because of the new language, Kraus is more confident in the bill’s legality.

“We learned a lot, we did our homework, we know we’re legally sound,” Kraus said. “Most importantly, it will serve to enhance quality of life for people throughout Pittsburgh, and that’s what we’re here to do.”