For almost two years, we’ve been chronicling a new focus on the chronic vehicle-noise issues in the Alki/Admiral area, and Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s work to address it. In her weekly update, she announced she’s introducing new legislation this week to help police crack down – and an SPD community meeting next Tuesday:
As a beachside neighborhood and a regional destination, the Alki neighborhood and nearby areas face unique public safety and health challenges, especially during the warm-weather months. Residents, community groups, and visitors from elsewhere have expressed concern about public safety, and the growing impact of motor vehicle-related noise issues.
During the last two warm weather seasons, I’ve asked SPD to add additional officers; SPD recently announced they’ll be doing enhanced patrols this summer as well. I thank them for doing this.
I’ve also been working with community members to address vehicle noise in the Alki neighborhood since last year, when together we developed the Alki Public Safety and Health Survey. The survey showed noise from modified vehicle exhaust systems as the #1 community concern.
On Monday I’ll be introducing legislation to address vehicle exhaust system noise in the Alki neighborhood.
The legislation, if passed, will simplify enforcement by allowing officers to issue citations for muffler and engine noise that “can be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 75 feet or more from the vehicle.” This is the standard used for the City’s motor vehicle stereo noise law (SMC 25.08.515 (A)(2), in effect since 1989.
The current City law that covers motor vehicle exhaust noise requires use of sound meters, which are time-consuming and require calibration, and are thus very difficult to use for enforcement. This was underscored as a problem by SPD in their report to Council re: enforcement of vehicle noise on Alki. While there are muffler laws on the books, they are specific to whether the muffler is modified, rather than the amount of noise being made, and since it is difficult to determine whether mufflers have been modified, are consequently also difficult for police officers to enforce.
The legislation will be heard at the June 13th meeting of the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education Committee chaired by Councilmember González. This meeting starts at 9:30 a.m., with public comment at the beginning.
In addition to muffler noise, my office also closely examined City laws for motor vehicle stereo noise and screeching tire noise. Both rated high as community concerns in the survey.
Working with the City Attorney’s Office and SPD, we’ve been able to clarify that the current City motor vehicle noise laws for stereo noise and screeching tire noise can be enforced as written. My office also worked to clarify that noise meters are not needed to enforce these motor vehicle noise laws, and it is not required to have a complaint from someone separate from the officer. Some sections of the noise code do require meters, and a constituent complaint.
This legislation will apply citywide, on city streets. Although the legislation mentions “highways,” in the Seattle Municipal Code section for noise enforcement, this just means any City road.
Also, the SW Precinct (2300 SW Webster St) will be hosting a community meeting the evening of June 12th at 6:30 p.m. to hear Southwest Precinct Captain Pierre Davis’ plans to address noise and speeding in Alki. SPD has committed to emphasis patrols (i.e. extra officers) in Alki during the warm weather months. I thank them for their commitment, and for reaching out to Alki residents early in the warm weather season.