FOLLOWUP: Quieter Alki soon? New standard for vehicle-noise enforcement gets City Council OK

(SPD’s mobile precinct, seen on Alki this evening)

Will a new standard for excessive vehicle noise – distance instead of decibels – eventually lead to more police enforcement and a quieter Alki (and elsewhere)? The changes proposed by West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who explained them at length earlier this month – won final council approval this afternoon. Discussion and voting started 35 minutes into today’s Full Council meeting:

You can find the full legislation here, along with one approved amendment – sponsored by citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, asking for quarterly reports on how the law is being implemented, so they could track any concerns or “unintended consequences.” That passed unanimously; the bill itself had one “no” vote, Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who expressed concerns that the change to a subjective enforcement standard could take an unintended toll on people driving noisy old cars, for example, because that’s all they can afford, though she said she agrees that people have a “right to peace and quiet.” So how long until this facilitates enforcement? Herbold said SPD had committed to a “robust” outreach/information campaign before starting. If you have questions, your next chance to ask police will be at tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, 7 pm at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster).

28 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Quieter Alki soon? New standard for vehicle-noise enforcement gets City Council OK"

  • justme June 18, 2018 (9:55 pm)

    I’m guessing this will keep a lot of loud motorcycles from being able to come to the area at all.  There are a lot of loud bikes out there, even at normal acceleration. 

    • bolo June 18, 2018 (10:33 pm)

      Were straight pipes on bikes *ever* legal?

  • bolo June 18, 2018 (10:29 pm)

    Kshama, girl, generally I like you but get some common sense on this one.
    1. Poor folk driving beater cars with broken muffler are not the target here;
    2. Getting a muffler for the beater is a drop in the bucket, compared to the more expen$ive requirement$ of car tab$, in$urance, ga$, emi$$ion$ te$t$, etc.;
    3. The beater with the broken muffler is still usually not that much of a racket at 75 feet out, especially when not “showboating.”

    • dsa June 19, 2018 (10:02 am)

      The beater with the broken muffler falls under faulty equipment anyway, already covered.

  • Seattlite June 18, 2018 (10:45 pm)

    Made me laugh —  “…Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who expressed concerns that the change to a subjective enforcement standard could take an unintended toll on people driving noisy old cars…”

  • Delridger June 18, 2018 (10:52 pm)

    This is really great. It’s important to focus on quality of life issues like this. Thank you Lisa and the rest of the council! I hope spd takes enforcement seriously. I’m looking forward to a more pleasant Alki when I next visit. 

  • Jort June 18, 2018 (11:36 pm)

    Good! I’m glad to see steps being taken to shut down our toxic car culture. 

  • Sam June 19, 2018 (12:44 am)

    I live at Alki. I spent many years living in a beach town in Florida. If you live by a beach strip, it’s going to be noisy and crowded on the nice summer weekends, and that is OK. I look at that multiple ways:1. I knew what I was getting into when I moved here. Alki Avenue is  a public street with an adjacent beach park. People will come here in the summer. I welcome everyone.2. The rest of the week, it’s not bad. I get to be here every night. I’m glad I get to live somewhere nice that a lot of folks only have time/resources to visit on occasion.3. I get to have year-round local businesses/restaurants nearby that make a lot of their annual money in this season. The June/July motorcycles and cruising cars subsidize my January burgers on nights when I do not feel like cooking.4. If I’m too old to be around young people having a good time and letting loose a little bit, I need to re-examine my priorities. I was once young, too, and I surely annoyed people on many occasions. Many.That said, the excessive speed, and the revving of engines by cars and motorcycles on interior streets, is a problem. Waste all the gas you want to down on the beach strip to impress whoever with your RPMs, but not on a residential street a block (or more) away, jeopardizing pedestrians and creating noise pollution. When my windows are open you may as well be revving your ride in my living room. Be courteous when out of view, and be as huge as you want to be on the strip.I don’t think we need legislation that cops won’t bother to enforce when attempting to do so is a waste of time and energy for them. How on earth will they prove it in court… cameras with stereo microphones and  SPL meters on them?!?!  I don’t see how cops, from 75+ feet away (the standard in the legislation), can observe an offense by a vehicle, gather sufficient data to substantiate the offense in court, and still manage to issue a citation to a moving target. The burden of proof is greater than “I think that purple car was excessively loud!!!”And… all of that said, we need to be especially mindful these days, even here in left-coast Seattle, that new legislation targeting small-scale behaviors of small segments of the population over short periods of time in limited locations do not become opportunities for targeting and harassing “minorities” visiting what is very much an affluent white neighborhood. 

    • Jim June 19, 2018 (1:41 pm)

      If they are too loud at Alki, they are too loud wherever they go in our city.  Get them off the streets.  You know the cars that are modified to make noise.  Obnoxious noise at that!  Ridiculous argument to say they only do it at a “beach strip.”

  • West_Seattle_Dude June 19, 2018 (4:51 am)

    I hope this is extended and enforced on Admiral.  The traffic lights seem to be an irresistable cue for modified cars and motorcycles to rev their engines and to peel out when the light is green.  And these people do not give a damned that there are houses and apartment buildings often less than 50 feet from them.

    • Erithan June 19, 2018 (10:56 am)

      Junction too hopefully. 

      • Kevin June 20, 2018 (4:56 pm)

        I agree! The West Seattle Junction is horrible in the summer. Nearly every night, there are guys with purposely loud mufflers racing from  down Alaska (starting at California to 35th) – and were are the cops? Alki!

  • BD June 19, 2018 (5:41 am)

    Well, not to be contrarian or anything, but this seems to me like a terrible idea.  A standard like “can be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 75 feet or more from the vehicle itself” seems like it would include lots of vehicles, such as buses, trucks, and any vehicle at speed on the freeway.  It seems more like a license for the SPD to selectively harass ‘those darn kids’, rather than an objective standard applicable to everyone. 

  • Mike Mahanay June 19, 2018 (6:10 am)

    Just Alki? Shouldn’t this encompass the entire city? It will be interesting to see if there are actually citations issues.

  • anonyme June 19, 2018 (6:52 am)

    Delridger, thank you for bringing up quality of life.  This essential element of living in the city (or anywhere) is frequently downplayed or ignored, yet so important.  Next they need to crack down – hard – on fireworks violations.

  • Mike June 19, 2018 (6:57 am)

    Sawant is against anything that allows police to do their jobs.

  • T Rex June 19, 2018 (8:10 am)

    Well said Sam, I feel the same as you. Summer brings the crowds. I go down to Alki more in the winter than the summer. In the summer I can sneak down during the week and get lunch as well with not much trouble. Weekends, forget it, but its fun to cruise down there and see all the people supporting those small businesses.  As with the head tax fiasco, this is a complete waste of time. Our council members have some serious issues with prioritizing their workload. If you ask me, I think they just love the limelight. They do entertain me though.   

  • Mike June 19, 2018 (9:13 am)

    Great policy.  I live above Harbor Avenue, way above.  And the noise from the crotch rockets is intrusive and distracting.  Always waiting for the crash – not hoping for it, but worried about it.  We are entitled to some peace and quiet.  The occasional sirens and the noise from the medevac helicopters headed for Harborview is also intrusive, but we accept it as essential.  

  • AN June 19, 2018 (10:08 am)

    Do they still enforce the cruising Law, once each way within a couple of hours? This was a law back in the 80’s and 90’s.

  • dsa June 19, 2018 (10:24 am)

    I think as it pertains to moving motor vehicles this perceived nuisance noise at 75 feet law  might fail.  However for those stationary ones that are at the curb who race their engines, this is a “gottcha!”.

  • JR June 19, 2018 (12:44 pm)


    Perhaps, during the next 2 weeks, it would be wise for CM
    Herbold to coordinate an effort to collect pre-enforcement data on the license plate number of folks driving vehicles along Harbor Ave, Alki Ave.,
    and Beach Drive SW, Hamilton Viewpoint, Admiral, and California St. which emit
    an especially loud noise when accelerated likely due to modification made to
    the vehicle for intent purpose of emitting an especially loud noise. This information
    could be collected by city council staff, students, volunteers, etc., and
    compared to the information reported in the quarterly reports to address any
    future concerns of possible racial profiling or discrimination complaints which was mention during
    last week’s meeting.

  • CarDriver June 19, 2018 (3:47 pm)

     “toxic car culture” Quite the statement Jort considering you drive. 

    • heartless June 19, 2018 (4:48 pm)

      I mean, most people I know who smoke cigarettes agree they’re bad for you…

  • KT June 19, 2018 (3:54 pm)

    Got to have an actual police presence willing to enforce the ordinance to make it effective.  

  • ScubaFrog June 19, 2018 (3:56 pm)

    We had a car out front doing donuts on Alki, they’re doing “smoke shows” in cars and motorcycles now (burning tires in circles to make big “O”s in the street, and smoke.We just don’t have the police presence to stop it.Also I agree that it should be a Peninsula-Wide focus.  I don’t think it’s fair that only Alki gets the focus.

  • Doug June 19, 2018 (6:44 pm)

    Please enforce the smoking weed laws in public.  Alki sucks now, not family friendly on the weekends.   Every 50 feet someone is lighting up a joint/spleef!    Cops do your jobs….. Look for more business closings and crime.

  • so-really June 22, 2018 (2:42 pm)

       ok..when I was a teenager the thing to do was drive around and listen to rock music cranked up without giving a whoop about who didn’t like it but it seems like even then we had a little more decency about when we did it and where… these days the music is SOOOO loud and in your face and the bass can almost give you a heart attack when some of these idiots pull up next to you-( and all of you know exactly what I’m talking about!) the overall noise from cars and motorcycles is really alarming. I for one, wish the car stereo manufacturers would somehow make it so you could only turn up the music so loud..  

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