Ordinance expands hours during which loud noise is banned

Turn down that stereo!

Medford's noise ordinance, amended last week, now gives police a tool to stop loud music any time of the day or night. The rule previously only addressed loud music between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

A rule stopping early-morning mowing and other noisy yard upkeep also was added.

We get close to a thousand calls a year, complaining about loud music, said Randy Schoen, Medford police's deputy chief of operations. About 40 percent of those were between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
— He said that about a year ago, city officials started discussing the difficulty of cracking down on problems with amplified sound during the day. They pondered a noise ordinance that set a decibel level as officially too loud, but that would have required officers have special training to operate complicated decibel meters that measure sound.

We wanted a tool so if you could hear your neighbor's music in your house, we could do something about it, Schoen said.

He studied sample noise ordinances and decided that the city's declaration that no person shall make, continue, cause, or permit to be made or continued any noise disturbance, followed by a list of noise no-nos was as good as any.

Taking out the time limit will give police the power to stop noisemakers anytime, he said.

Our goal is to see compliance, he said. We'll have officers use their discretion.

Schoen said most people quiet down when asked. Only 2 percent of complaints about loud music lead to citations, he said. A noise ordinance violation carries a base fine of &

36;75, but fines can range up to &


The other change in the noise ordinance bans the use of powered lawn equipment such as mowers, blowers and chain saws between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. in residential neighborhoods.

Schoen said police were getting a growing number of complaints about such equipment, usually in the hands of landscape-maintenance companies getting an early start during their busy season.

It's not an epidemic, but the department was getting several dozen calls a year, he said.

Landscape contractors still can get an early start on work in commercial areas. They just have to wait until after 7 a.m. in residential neighborhoods, he said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4459, or e-mail