San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 17th, 2009
New noise ordinance goes into effect

STAFF REPORT

The City of San Marcos implemented new rules on noise and unruly gatherings on May 12, with the goal of reducing complaints about loud parties.

The amendments to the city’s noise ordinance, which were adopted April 7, are a result of more than two years work on identifying the root causes of the problem and engaging stakeholders in the solutions, according to city staff.

“The broad goal of this program are to achieve community partnership and collaboration, education, fair enforcement and an effective response plan,” said San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz. “We want to balance the collective interests of our citizens in a way that respects the rights of all.”

According to Assistant Chief Lisa Dvorak of the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD), noise complaint are the number one type of call handled by the department.

“San Marcos Police handled more than 2,700 noise complaints in 2008,” Dvorak said. “While we have used traditional policing methods in the past, this effort has sought to use community problem solving to achieve long term change.”

The new rules:

  • Define excessive noise and sets the property line as the reference point for measuring noise.
  • Describe factors for officers to consider when determining whether noise is excessive.
  • Holds hosts, guests or property owners/managers responsible for gatherings.
  • Defines an unruly gathering.
  • Allows police officers to disperse an unruly gathering.
  • Provides for notification of property owners or managers to establish strategies to prevent future violations from occurring on a property. Strategies include education, mediation, and enforcement of lease violations against tenants, refusal to renew leases and tenant eviction.

“We are paying attention to noise issues because noise is a trauma that can affect the livability of a neighborhood – whether it’s a single family residential area or apartment complex,” Dvorak said. “Loud noise, music and parties can harm quality of life, and result in a property being a less sought after place to live.”

The original series of noise ordinances was adopted in 2002. A copy of the new ordnance, along with tips for party goers, can be found on the city’s website.

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