Proposed ordinance aims to tighten noise restrictions

City council to vote on new noise restriction rules

La Crosse city council will vote on an ordinance that proposes tightening noise restrictions.

The ordinance said sound should not be heard more than 100 feet away from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. from houses, businesses and boats. One of the two council members proposing the measure said it’s important to give police and residents more clear cut guidelines.

“Our current sound ordinance, although it is good, it’s difficult to implement for our police officers,” said city council member James Cherf. “This will give our police officers who respond to noise complaints some additional tools which employ reasonableness regarding quality of life and generally being a good neighbor.”

Cherf said current rules using decibel levels aren’t much use to the average community members.

“Seventy-five decibels? Sixty decibels? How loud is that? I don’t think the average person on the street would know what that is,” he said.

La Crosse Sergt. Randy Rank said though they have them at the station, officers don’t usually carry decibel meters, but they have a good idea of what’s too loud.

“Our officers are going to make that decision. This is excessive. It’s keeping the neighbors awake,” said Rank.

Rank said the ordinance would make enforcing noise complaints more clear.

“There would be a little bit more of a bright line when it comes to officers as far as enforcement,” he said.

Some residents aren’t sure the new proposal is needed.

“I like to think it’s a little unnecessary,” said Michael Stelpflug. “I think if you have a big issue with your neighbor making too much sound, I’d like to think people would go out of their way to talk to their neighbor, and usually, I think, most people would be reasonable.”

Cherf said he doesn’t think the new ordinance is about giving more ticket, but instead helping to draw a clearer line for acceptable noise levels.

“It allows the officer to take reasonable judgement calls in order to educate people making too much noise at inappropriate hours.”

Committees will review the proposal, and Cherf said some details could still be changed, including the 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. time-frame. The council will vote on the ordinance in April.

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