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Too noisy? City Council is considering revising Alexandria’s noise ordinance

With noise complaints on the rise from residents throughout the city, the Alexandria City Council will consider an updated noise ordinance next month.

Following its adoption, the ordinance will then go out for public review throughout the summer.

“Excessive noise is one of the most prevalent causes of civic disputes,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in his May newsletter.

Council will make additional changes and vote on the matter in next year’s budget.

The creation of a new noise ordinance started in the fall of 2019, but was shelved by the pandemic. Last year, Police reported a total of 2,451 noise complaints, and the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services reported a 55% increase in 2020, with 366 complaints.

“Following that adoption there will be new community engagement to prepare additional adjustments to the ordinance, as we attempt to balance the vibrancy of our business districts with protecting quality of life for our residents,” Wilson said.

Council will look at options on limiting noise in public places to 60 decibels (about the volume of a normal conversation) within 10 feet of a structure, and nothing louder than 65 decibels (about the volume of an average dishwasher) in a public place within 50 feet of a structure.

Additionally, the city is considering increasing fines to $50 to $100 for a first violation, $100 to $250 for a second violation, and $500 for all subsequent violations. Other proposed limitations include prohibiting “plainly audible” noise from residential areas from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and increasing the allowable decibels in commercial areas from 60 dB to 65 dB.

The city will also consider hiring a “multi-tasked noise inspector” who would solely focus on noise complaints.

Chart via City of Alexandria

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