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Elk Grove Citizen

General Plan Defines Noise Levels

May 02, 2024 01:23PM ● By Sharon Pearce
ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - Members of the Elk Grove Planning Commission sought guidance from senior planner Sarah Kirchgessner about the General Plan noise standards at its April 18 meeting.
First, “noise” was defined as” unwanted sound.” 
Kirchgessner said that sound is measured in decibels (dB), a relative unit of measurement equal to one tenth of a bel (B). The maximum allowable exterior noise in decibels for the city should be no more than 60 decibels and no more than 45 decibels for interior noise, according to Kirchgessner. 
The residential standard is measured in Ldn (Day Night Average Sound), which is the average for the noise over a 24-hour period. Leq (equivalent continuous sound level) is the code representing a typical worst-case hour. Some areas along busy streets tested out at 70 decibels. If noise is sited adjacent to a higher noise measure or a residential setting with sensitive receptors, the city will require a noise study. 
“Noise control” means managing excessive or offensive noise detrimental to public welfare, which would be a public nuisance. The establishment of maximum permissible noise levels “will serve the peace of local inhabitants,” Kirchgessner said.  
Currently set in the plan is that daytime acceptable decibels are 50 to 55, and at night, 40 to 45, with a defined location set for place of measurement. Interior noise levels are measured at set locations, too, Kirchgessner said.
Noise standards can have exemptions. Parks and playgrounds, common railroad sounds, solid waste collection noise and residential property maintenance are exempt to noise levels from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prohibited noise includes construction sounds between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. as well as other noises from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. This includes public service noise, exclusive of barking complaints. There are prohibitions on public nuisance noise that is unusual and disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood. Factors as to time of day and other ambient noises are included.
Code enforcement is responsible for enforcing noise complaints, such as from animals measured for a consistent period of 10 minutes within a 30-minute period. No designated periods were set out. One commissioner said the graphics showed 26 complaints in 2022, asking what enforcement staff did in response. The answer was those complaints came under the Animal Services purview. An Elk Grove enforcement officer expanded on the answer, saying most complaints relate to construction workers starting early.
Information was presented on exterior sensitive noise, plus noise measured for a range of hours. Kirchgessner’s report indicated 68 decibels was likely and daytime as 55 and nighttime as 45. There are reasons for exemptions, Kirchgessner noted.  
Standards cover general noise equipment as well. 
The decibel is 45 for an office building. Transportation noise is also covered in the code. Future noise probability must consider walls or a noise study might be required. Noise review is included in most projects, according to Kirchgessner.
In other news, a resolution was adopted that makes G & C Auto Body, an autobody and auto paint service business in the Light Industrial (LI) zoning district at 9919 Kent St., exempt from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) guidelines, and the Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit. An approximately 374-square-foot patio cover at the rear of the existing building is to be used as a car wash area for vehicles being serviced, but no other exterior improvements were proposed. The ownership, part of the Crozar Family Foundation, has an existing CEQA exemption.
The Planning Commission adopted a resolution recommending that City Council find the proposed 2024 to 2029 Capital Improvement Program is not a project coming under CEQA guidelines and finding it to be consistent with the City of Elk Grove’s General Plan. 
It was set out that fees under it are discretionary. Five programs in it are alternative transportation and roads, i.e., trails and bike paths; community enhancement via landscape, lighting; plazas and parks; drainage such as flood control, stormwater quality and conveyance; facilities, covering new as well as repair and maintenance; and transportation such as pavement resurfacing, traffic control and traditional transportation projects.
The Planning Commission’s findings, many already in the General Plan, will go to City Council on May 22 and an annual budget to be presented for adoption at the City Council meeting on June 12.
 City Council meetings start at 6 p.m. at 8400 Laguna Palms Way.
New member Varinder Singh was welcomed to the Planning Commission.