Ongoing complaints about loud music have not been answered satisfactorily, former City Council candidate Gene Yeakley told the Ceres City Council last week.
“There still continues to be a problem in the city here,” said Yeakley. “I’ve been up here. I feel like I’m hitting my head on a wall here because it never gets taken care of. It’s not just me – it’s all over.”
Yeakley said there are a lot of residents who “don’t have any respect for people.”
He lifted up a recorder to the microphone to play seconds the sound of Mexican music that blared from a neighboring home which he recorded from his house.
“This goes on and on sometimes on weekends for several hours. This is right next door to my home!”
Yeakley said the Ceres Police Department has records that he has made loud music calls for seven years. He also said that supports law enforcement but didn’t appreciate officers’ remarks that he should get different kinds of windows or move up to a nicer neighborhood.
“I’m 68 years old; I should not have to adjust to nothing when there’s laws and codes and they’re not being taken care of. I’m really upset that it this gone this far.”Gene Yeakley
“I’m 68 years old; I should not have to adjust to nothing when there’s laws and codes and they’re not being taken care of. I’m really upset that it this gone this far. How much more do I have to put up with before I break, before I end up in the newspaper? It’s really old.”
City Manager Toby Wells said most loud noise calls are made outside of normal business hours and are handled by police.
Councilman Mike Kline said he sympathizes with Yeakley.
“It doesn’t matter what the decibel ratio is or whatever, if it’s a nuisance to your neighbors … then it should be common courtesy that the neighbors turn it down,” said Kline. He said police can cite for nuisance. “I agree with Mr. Yeakley. He should not have to tolerate that.”
Wells said offenders are cited on a “regular basis” and commented that the city’s noise ordinance is “not as tight as we’d like it to be, not as defensible” and will be updated.
Vice Mayor Linda Ryno said she didn’t think decibel readings were important “when you’re in your house and all of your windows and doors are closed and you can hear your neighbors blasting their music.” Wells replied, “of course but you also have property rights as well so we have to make sure that there is a clear violation of the code in order for it to be enforced.”
Yeakley suggested that officers go over the code with violators with printed notices in “English and Spanish – it hope we don’t have to go to any other languages” when the excuse is “they don’t speak English.”
Ceres Police Lt. Chris Perry was asked to explain protocol. He said his officers try to give warnings before citing unless they habitually play loud music. Police can cite criminally for loud music under California Penal Code 415(e) but there has to be a victim. Most people only want the noise abated, not be dragged into the court system to testify, he said.
“Most people don’t want to go that far,” said Lt. Perry.
Police may also give $250 administrative citations to avoid court while punishing the problem resident. Those citations are usually given if an officer asks the music to be turned down and must return when the music level goes up. The second citation can cost $500 and the third $1,000. If it’s left unpaid, the city can attach the fine amount to the water bill system and ultimately shut off water service if the bill isn’t paid. If water is cut off, said Lt. Perry, the city can have the dwelling declared inhabitable and the residents removed.
Perry encouraged anyone making loud music calls to report the problem the time it’s happening. Even if officers take long to get to the residence and the music is already down, warnings can still be given.
Loud music played in a car is dealt with differently through a traffic stop and issuance of a ticket for a vehicle code violation.
Perry was unsure if officers have cited Yeakley’s neighbors but he said any resident may request that police follow up with the complaining party to explain the outcome of the contact.