Neighbors' Noisy Cars, Tools, & Devices
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Neighbor's loud equipment - apparent body work business
- Neighbor's noisy hot tub motor - unpermitted?
- Neighbor's noisy, souped-up car
- Locating a chirping sound in the neighborhood
- Bothered by neighbor's noisy car
- Neighbor seems to be running a business out of his garage - noisy power tools
For the past year our neighbor, who lives on the street behind us, has been using a generator and loud equipment pretty much every sunny day in his backyard. We can only see a bit of what is going on back there but it appears that they are doing some kind of body work on cars. We don't know the neighbors and admittedly haven't gone over to ask them to stop, but I'm not really comfortable doing that.
I'm not someone who needs dead silence in my backyard, we live in a city after all, but I don't think it's fair that I have listen to industrial sounds when I want to chill out in the backyard. I've searched on the Oakland city website but I can't seem to find any info on who to contact to complain about this, so I thought I would ask BPN. Anyone dealt with this before and succeeded in making it stop? Who can I contact in Oakland to help me with this? Anne
googling "oakland noise ordinance" found these helpful pages: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityAdministration/d/NA/index.htm http://www.rockridgencpc.com/resources-mainmenu-31/noisy-neighbors
Is this a business that isn't licensed? see http://www.oaklandnet.com/government/fwawebsite/revenue/revenue_biztaxreq.htm
I would advise great caution in getting the city involved due to rampant corruption within CEDA. You file a complaint and they come down on you! Sounds like your neighbor is using an air compressor and there probably isn't an ordinance prohibiting that. Contractors use them all the time and within certain hours they are permitted-even on sunny days. If your neighbor is conducting a business in a residential area that is another thing. My suggestion would be to first ask the neighbor for some relief. If they know they are upsetting somebody they will likely stop to prevent you from calling the city. Perhaps the compressor can be put in a garage or basement and run a longer hose. They also sell sound reducing mufflers for compressors and large tank compressors that run less often. If you aren't comfortable confronting them just slip a note in the mailbox and hope for the best. Getting the city involved should be a last resort-especially in Oakland. CEDA victim
I don't know what the person who answered your question was talking about when they cited ''rampant corruption within CEDA'' since they didn't give any specific details, but it has been my experience that if you call the City of Oakland and make a complaint about noise, someone will come out with a noise meter and investigate your claim, and send a notice to the owner of the property (whether it is the people making the noise that own the property or not) who has the responsibility of making sure the tenants follow the rules or be fined if they don't comply within a certain amount of time. Absolutely positively you must call them because their inspections are complaint driven. If it doesn't get better within the time specified by the inspector, definitely call again so the problem can get fixed. You can also TALK to someone at CEDA without filing a complaint and they will tell you what they will likely do, and then you can make a decision about whether or not you will file a complaint. Government is by the people.
My neighbor just built out a deck and added a hot tub. The tub ends up sitting a few feet away from my bedroom. We live in the city of Berkeley, and it looks like he was supposed to get a special permit that would make sure the tub was installed correctly and did not cause noise disturbances. I don't think he went through this process since there was no opportunity for input. The deck was built with permits. We are on good terms otherwise, but I can hear the motor running now (11 pm) as I head to bed, and even quiet conversations come through our double pane windows. Any advice? How to mitigate the noise, or any safety concerns we should worry about? Missing my quiet nights. Quiet hill mama
Everybody is SO obsessed with rules and laws nowadays, many that seem so trivial. Maybe you can hear the noise of the hot tub motor or the gurgling of water or hushed conversations. But if you are a mother, and it seems like you addressed yourself as one, then did you ever wonder if your kids made tons of noise outdoors or indoors that your neighbors had/have to be privy to? They just can't complain because it is legal for your kids to make noise. By the way, I have three kids. My point is that can't people just seem to get past what is legal or not in order to justify their actual intolerance of things? One of these days, you might have a situation that might require your neighbors to be sympathetic or accepting and you will have lost that opportunity by complaining abut something that seems so trivial as a hot tub in someone's back yard. Is it necessary to spend time worrying about this?
Not all permits require input from the neighbors so I wouldnt assume your neighbor didn't get a permit.
What safety concerns might a hot tub have to you, the neighbor? It sounds as if there are two real issues: the sound of the motor and the sound of voices late at night. I would suggest that you knock on their door and let them know that you go to bed at 10PM (or whenever) and could they please keep that in mind when they are 1)running the hot tub and 2) using the hot tub. If they are normal, caring and decent people they will happily oblige. If you don't want to approach them face to face, a nice letter would suffice. anon
I was in a similar situation a few years back but issue was with an a/c unit not a hot tub.
Here's my advice to you:
1. For now, I would buy earplugs and a white noise machine. You need your sleep in the short-term (and I'm assuming here the noise is not just annoying you but preventing you from sleeping).
2. Assuming that the work was done without permits, you need to find out if the tub in its current location would have been allowed under the permit process (in my case, the a/c unit was a property line encroachment - my neighbors chose the location, a few feet from a bedroom window, because it was the cheapest place to locate the unit - in short, it was all about the money).
3. Regardless of whether allowed or not, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Nolo Press's Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise. If you have a problem with noise now, you will need help finding the best way to approach the problem.
Hopefully, though, your neighbors did the right thing, and the hot tub was installed with permits and to code. A brief, friendly note (in writing) giving them a heads up that you can hear the tub and conversations at bedtime would probably be a good faith starting point. I would leave noise ordinances, concerns about permits, property rights etc out of it for now, but in the meantime I'd find out if that hot tub should even be there. been there
Of course, you can and SHOULD require your neighbours and their hot tub are quiet between 10PM and 7AM. Quiet between 10PM and 7AM is your right, by law. How you get back to quiet between 10PM and 7AM is an issue you'll have to address, step-by-step, depending on your neighbours' choices. Clearly, your neighbours knew, before they built their deck and before they installed their hot tub, where bedrooms in your home are, so, for the git-go, you have some idea what attitudes your neighbours have about ''social contracts'' (an ever-evolving political and philosophical concept of how humans live together in a ''civil society'' that includes your right to ''quiet enjoyment'' in your home!)
It's easy to find-out if this hot tub was built without a permit in Berkeley. Call Berkeley's permit center:
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/psc/ Permit Service Center 2120 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704 TEL: (510) 981-7500 FAX: (510) 981-7505 Office Hours: 8:30am - 4:00pm Email: planning [at] cityofberkeley.info
You do not have to give your name to ask a question.
If this hot tub was not installed with a permit (and, based on the fact that you were not asked by Berkeley before a permit was issued, I'm betting this hot tub was not built with a permit), you get to choose how you deal with your neighbours' problems.
But, in addition to noise and intrusions into your bedroom, there may be issues that should concern your family (and other homeowners nearby) about possible damages from weight of that much water, over time, doing damage to the hillside or other structures. If their hot tub was not built with a permit, it is likely the deck was not designed to hold that much weight, especially if there were an earthquake (Is your home anywhere near the Hayward Fault ?)
Is your home anywhere near the Hayward Fault ?
I live in a Berkeley neighborhood near the Cal campus. As such, I have to endure my share of typical urban and college-town noise. I get that. But recently a student moved in who drives a souped-up sport coupe of some indeterminate make that has the LOUDEST non-muffling exhaust system I've ever heard. Plus, this guy cannot parallel park. As you can imagine, the rumbling and revving and vibrating clamor is deafening and happens at all sorts of odd hours. My question is this: Is there anything I can do to get some authority (city of Berkeley? Police?) to ticket, fine, or otherwise coerce him into putting a proper muffler on that thing? I understand there are codes related to vehicle noise, but does anyone have advice on how, exactly, to report and follow up on a problem like this? Already sleep-deprived w/o this headache
Contact the DMV. We had a similar problem in our area and one neighbor was particularly irritated by it daily. He had the OPD come out and was told they couldn't do much. Next I think he turned to the DMV and reported the car as a gross polluter which prompted the DMV to invite the owner in for a special SMOG check. Soon the car had a proper exhaust system on it. Worth a try. Maybe you have seen the billboards to report smoking vehicles to the DMV? silence is golden
I don't have any advice for you, but BOY can I commiserate. We must live close to you; I have heard that car many times. Between that noise, the shows at the Greek Theater, and the drunk college students parking and yelling (and peeing) on our street for football games and music concerts, we have many sleepless nights around here. I'm hoping someone has suggestions for you on how to combat the constant disruption of that thoughtless driver...and possibly the many, MANY other disturbances in this area. Tired of non-stop noise
Some things for you to check out:
1. The City of Berkeley has a noise ordinance. See http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Health_Human_Services/Environmental_Health/Community_Noise_Program.aspx You can call in a report, or email them, or fill out a form online.
2. Do you live on the Southside? There is a ''Joint Southside Safety Patrol'' staffed by both the BPD and the UCPD that was formed ''to curtail violent crime and public nuisances.'' Here is an article about it: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/08/18/joint-campus-and-city-police-safety-patrol-resumes-tonight/
3. Email your city councilperson. Often (not always but often) they know how to guide issues like this through the bureaucracy - which person you should call to lodge a complaint, for example. Here's a list of city council members: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Roster.aspx
4. Neighborhood group. Does your neighborhood have a mailing list? Many neighborhoods in Berkeley do. You can get lots of useful info from people who run the group, attend a meeting and raise your issue, find nearby neighbors who agree with you, etc. Google or ask your neighbors - For example, here is a list of groups in District 8 I found by googling ''Berkeley neighborhood groups'': http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/d8neighborhoods/
Hope that is helpful and good luck! Ginger
We have recently noticed a chirping sound in our neighborhood that has been driving our dog crazy. It is so bothersome for the dog that he paces around, claws at doors, jumps over baby gates, and will not settle down. He literally broke out if his crate that we reintroduced as a possible solution.
It's been 3 weeks and we're worried that if we can't figure out what is causing it we may have to get rid of our dog because we can't get sleep. It is definitely the sound that causes the anxiety.
The high pitched chirping sounds mechanical. It starts at night, around 10, but not at a set time. It goes off regularly in 38 second intervals, sometimes skipping an interval.
Any pointers on what might cause this type of sound would be greatly appreciated so we can talk to neighbors and figure out what causes it. We're hoping we might be able to offer to replace the device with a replacement that doesn't drive our dog bonkers. Hoping there's a solution
No idea if this is close to what it is, but I was bothered by a regular chirping sound at work for weeks until someone said it was the security camera tape battery needing changing. The noise was loud -- came from three rooms and a corridor away. Is there a store near you or a home or garage that might have a camera or alarm needing a battery? Chirped too
Do you think it is one of those sonic devices that is supposed to keep critters away? Sounds so hard for your dog, hope you figure it out. Good luck! anon
Are you only at home in the evening and hence notice the sound then? Or maybe in and out during the day? I suspect it's probably chirping during the day as well but just not as noticeable... anyway, I had a similar experience with said chirping noise. It was driving me nuts- similar interval time wise and I could NOT find it anywhere. Augh- I can almost hear it now typing this! I could hear it in the house and outside. Finally I was in the garage and it turned out to be the battery was dying a slow, annoying death in an old carbon monoxide detector from previous home. Removed battery, chirping gone. I've found usually the source of this obnoxious sound (this was pre-dog but I bet it would drive mine nuts as well) is a dying smoke alarm or in my case the CM detector.
Good luck! Hope you find it. Chirp Holmes
Does your smoke alarm need the batteries replaced? That may be the problem.
If you live near an intersection of a somewhat busy street with a crossing signal, that may be the source of your chirping. The newer street crossing signals now include a mechanical ''chirping'' to aid sight impaired persons know when to cross. The sound often isn't noticeable until evening when background noise lessens. We live a block from such a device and I find it very irritating but am told the city will not change or lessen the sound so we must just live with it.
Another possibility of course is somebody's smoke or CO2 detector in a nearby building ... that you should be able to locate just by walking around and listening. Good luck
fascinating. i really like your detail: every 38 seconds. can you take the dog for a walk when that chirping is happening and find the source? curious CIL
We noticed a similar chirping sound in our back yard. It turned out to be coming from a squirrel-repelling soundmaking device in an unoccupied neighboring house. Once we found the source of the noise, we politely asked them to turn it down and they did. Good luck! Less chirping, please
Could the chirping sound be coming from a smoke detector? Some give a little chirp warning to indicate that the battery is low. Our dog reacts in the exact same way to these, especially in our home but also outdoors. veli
Sounds like it could be a smoke detector with a dead/dying battery. Is there a vacant house near you? Those things are really lound and annoying. Have you tried wandering around the neighborhood while the chirping is happening to try to find it? Good luck
The chirping sound is likely a low-battery indicator for a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector. They make a terrible high-pitched sound which is aggravating for dogs - my dogs do the same thing in my house when they chirp! Anon
My mom has a device that chirps in her backyard to get rid of gophers. It drives me batty! I feel bad for your dog. The only solution I see is to find out which neighbor has the device and kindly explain how your poor dog is suffering. Poor Doggy
In our experience such a sound has come from a smoke detector in a crawl space that was losing battery power. It was sitting discarded on a shelf in a dark corner! (There was a ''Modern Family'' episode about a similar situation. Made us roll). BUT in your case it sounds distressful. So it COULD be a smoke detector in your own house or in a neighbors house. Do you have a neighbor who is hard of hearing and who opens their windows at 10 pm at night? perhaps it is from their home. The challenge is that such sounds can be extremely challenging to locate. Cup your hands over your ears so you hear sound from in front of you, to try to locate the direction. Think about what else happens around 10 pm in your home or neighborhood that would trigger it. Could it be related to something a baby monitor is picking up? Or a house alarm. OR something that runs out of solar power around then? One time we even had a summer camp science project that started to beep - that was super hard to figure out! Now all wired science projects are required to have batteries removed in our house! Good Luck!
The sound you describe does sound like some kind of alarm (smoke, or carbon monoxide) that needs a new battery. Those kinds of alarms chirp when the battery is low, and eventually, the chirping will stop because the battery will run out. It could even be buried in someone's garage, in a box somewhere, and even the owner can't get to it. I would recommend making a place in your house where you dog can go to get away from the sound. Can you soundproof a bathroom, for example? Or some little room, where you could put a comfortable bed, and keep the light on? He could go there for relief of the sound, until the battery runs out.
Perhaps you could also post a polite sign in your neighborhood asking that the chirping be located, because the owner of the chirping device may have no idea that it's driving your dog crazy. As a dog lover, I would try to accomodate my neighbor's dog. Has dog ears too
2 other suggestions for the source of the chirping sound:
- squirrels chattering; in our backyard, I thought the chirping noise was the bluejays or robins, but hubby said it's the squirrels
- anti bug device; my MIL has a device plugged into an electrical outlet that ''chirps'' and is supposed to keep spiders away
Mom of two boys
My neighbor's tenant (I think my neighbor rented her basement illegally to him) has a very old truck. Every morning before he leaves for work, he would start the engine and warm up the car for 15-20 minutes. The sound is so loud that it wakes up everyone in my family. Our dual-panel windows just don't help. Every morning my two kids 4 and 7 wake up 40 minutes before schedule and stay in bed awake. They go to bed at 9:00pm and I don't want them go any earlier. The noise really disturbs our life. I tried to talk to the neighbor and I also called police. Neither worked. Police don't think there is any violation. What should I do? I'm really frustrated because the noise is so loud we can't just ignore it. Any suggestion will be appreciated. sue
Cal your city clerk and see if they can refer you to a City- sponosred neighborhood mediator. Also, you city's police department or rental regulating department may know how to contact a neighborhood mediator. Mom
It may be difficult if this neighbor is hostile toward you, but maybe you could go about it from an air quality standpoint. There are links on the DMV website to air quality agencies as well as a program in which state pays $650 for cars made before 1986, in an effort to get them off the road. Maybe this is all he incentive your neighbor needs. Good luck. Mara
If you live in Berkeley or Oakland, you can find those cities' noise ordinances on their websites. Other cities may have this too. read them. If it's loud enough to wake you up when you're indoors with the windows shut, it is likely exceeding lawful noise levels. Your next step is to contact a city official to file a complaint. I had good results complaining about my neighbor's gas-powered leaf blower, which is not only very noisy but also illegal in Berkeley. The city even has a form on the website you can fill out to make a complaint. I had asked my neighbor several times to not use it but never had any success - every other Tuesday from 8am - 10am I got the noise of a revving motorcycle right outside the window where I work. After I submitted the complaint online, something happened - maybe a phone call or a letter from the city? The next week she had switched to an electric leaf blower (still noisy but lots quieter!) So there is hope. Quieter now
Have you tried a white noise maker? It just might provide enough background noise so that the extra noise from the loud car won't wake your family. We live right behind a bar with lots of noise from talking, trucks, loud music, etc. After a bit of online research, I bought the Marpac Sleepate 980 and it's been absolutely wonderful. I don't know for sure that it would drown out your idling truck noises, but it might and seems worth the try. Good luck! Sarah
We have new neighbors on our (formerly) quiet residential Oakland street. A few months ago we noticed that they seem to be running a business in their garage, involving the near continuous use of power tools (sometimes used outside,in the driveway) and frequent pickups and deliveries that block the street with large trucks on a daily basis. Also, they have converted their home from a single family dwelling into a two- family home,with two house numbers. How can I find out if what they are doing is legal? Who can I call? If anyone has experience with this sort of problem,please advise. neighbor in distress
Call the department that you would call if you wanted to inquire about getting a business license for yourself. There's probably a listing in the phone book's government pages, or you can call the main number for city offices and ask where to call. Call the zoning office to find out about the duplex conversion.
Just ask the business license department if home businesses are permittable in your neighborhood, and if so what kinds. This way, you are not immediately ''turning in'' your neighbor and possibly creating unneccessary bad feelings.
But have you talked with them, introduced yourself, and let them know nicely that the noise is becoming a problem for you? It sounds like you know little about them or what they are actually doing. It's possible that they are working on their own house, and in that case there will eventually be an end to it. You don't mention seeing things going out, only things coming in, and any business needs to send their product out!
Just for your info, I have a home business in North Berkeley and my activities are limited to ''mail and phone''. I do very occasionally get deliveries by truck, but it's not frequent, and not loud or a nuisance to my neighbors. anon
You can contact the City of Oakland Revenue Division to determine if your neighbors have registered their business with the City (required of all business entities and rental properties in the city). If the business hasn't been registered, the owner will probably be liable for the annual fee for any years in business in Oakland plus penalties and interest if they are delinquent. This link has phone numbers: http://www.oaklandnet.com/government/fwawebsite/revenue/revenue_biztaxcontact.htm.
You can contact the City of Oakland Code Enforcement division to determine if the business use is compliant with your neighborhood's zoning, and to determine if the addition of the second unit was done with permits. Call 238 3381 and leave your questions along with the property address; you can remain anonymous. Be sure to get a case number and the name of the inspector to whom it is assigned (if they can give it to you) so you can follow up and see what transpires. Usually an inspector is assigned and visits the property within a few days, though resolution can take weeks, months, years. Good luck. local govt bureaucrat
Sounds like they may be violating the City's zoning code (both the home-based business and the two units). Go to www.oaklandnet.com and look up the contact information for Oakland's Planning and Zoning Dept. (within Community and Economic Development). There may be info on the zoning code on the website, but it may be easier to simply call the Planning and Zoning office and report the suspected violation. anon
To the person worried about a neighbor possibly operating a business from his/her home. The best thing for you to do is to visit the Building Official at City Hall. First you can determine if the house is permitted for two units. YOu can also check to see what the neighborhood's zoning is. Perhaps that block allows that type of business. Or maybe your neighbor has a home occupation permit. Usually one must prove that they will not negatively impact the neighborhood in order to get one of the those. Lots of people don't know they need this type of permit or don't care to find out and pay the fee. Oakland probably has some type of noise ordinance so you could also get at the problem from that aspect although violations are harder to prove (a city employee needs to use a noise meter thing) Once you determine if your neighbor is violating some type of City code (whether a building code or a zoming issue, you can submit a formal complaint (it's best to do this via letter with a copy to the City Administrator.) When a city recieves a formal complaint it becomes a code enforcement issue and a City is required to investigate. Most cities don't have the staff to practively enforce codes so they react to complaints. Squeaky wheels usually get the most attention. And of course, life safety problems always get the quickest action. You should give the Building Official a chance to respond and it takes a long time. If worse comes to worse, the best thing to do is to show up a Council meeting and speak under the public comment section on the agenda and submit copies to the City Council at the time of the steps you have taken to get the City to address the problem. Good luck. anon