In response to repeated complaints from residents living near Santa Barbara City College students, the City Council’s Ordinance Committee took the first step towards drafting a new noise ordinance that will be easier to enforce and to impose stiffer penalties on violaters. If ultimately adopted by the City Council, the proposed measure would allow city police officers to issue noise citations based on what they hear with their own ears as opposed to signed complaints filed by an affected party.
The current ordinance is almost never enforced because of this requirement. The proposed new ordinance would also reduce violations from misdemeanors to infractions, meaning those accused would not have the right to a jury trial, nor would they have anything on their criminal records if convicted. First time offenders would be given a warning. After that, fines would go from $350 to $750 and to $1,000 for subsequent violations.
Though the new ordinance was inspired by problems between City College students and their neighbors, it’s generated interest from some residents living near Elings Park, the Eagles Lodge on Bath Street, and those upset by the din created by the city’s downtown bar and restaurant scene.