Virginia Beach seeking public comment on proposed amendments to city's noise ordinance

Generic noise, loud, noisy, pillow, sound
Posted at 3:50 PM, May 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-29 18:22:47-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach residents, have you been bothered by noise in the city? The City of Virginia Beach is inviting you to share your opinions on proposed amendments to the city's noise ordinance.
Virginia Beach City Council will hold a public comment session and potentially vote on the proposed amendments on Tuesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, located on the second floor of Building 3 of the municipal center at 2403 Courthouse Drive.

If you'd like to speak, you can register by contacting the City Clerk's Office at 757-385-4303. You can also submit written comments in advance online here from May 27-June 6.

In 2009, council members adopted the current version of the noise ordinance after the state Supreme Court said Virginia Beach's previous one was unconstitutionally vague. This current noise ordinance system relies on sound pressure levels measured by noise meters.

The current noise ordinance can be foundhere.

The proposed changes to the current ordinance would streamline enforcement with reduced reliance on specialized sound meter equipment. The proposed ordinance would establish a hybrid penalty structure, imposing civil penalties for some violations while preserving criminal penalties for repeat or severe violations.

According to the city, a key change to the ordinance is the addition of a "plainly audible" standard, where certain sounds that can be heard clearly inside someone's home or beyond a specified distance from its source would constitute violations. Sound is considered to be plainly audible if it can be heard by the human ear with or without a medically approved hearing aid or device.

A violation of the plainly audible standard would result in a civil violation punishable by a fine of $250 for a first offense. Excessive noise as determined by decibel readings will continue to be violations under the proposed ordinance and may result in misdemeanor charges.

When discussing the matter during the May 24 city council meeting, council members brought up the incident where racial slurs and animal noises were played on Jessamine Court in Oct. 2021.Police also said the loud music doesn’t go above the noise level in the city ordinance.

You can review the draft ordinance and the city attorney's presentation to city council explaining the proposed changes online here.