On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously agreed the law should include set fines instead of charging an open-ended fee for police work that could have included helicopter costs, use of police dogs and other expensive procedures.
Instead, Mayor Pro Tempore Trish Kelley proposed a $250 fine for the second police visit to noisy homes, $500 for the third visit and $750 for a fourth visit within the same 12-hour period.
The first proposed law created a stir after it was approved 3-2. Kelley and Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht were guests on KPCC radio explaining the ordinance.
"Not a single person called in in favor of this," Schlicht said. She said she opposes any form of the law because it is unnecessary.
"Since 2007 there have been 14,481 less calls for police services," she said. "This is supposed to be a cost recovery, but there isn't any strain to police services. We've had absolutely a significant decrease in police calls."
She also criticized the law for removing the requirement that a neighbor sign a complaint form, which Police Chief Chris Wilson described as an obstacle deputies cross when responding to noise violations.
"This ordinance can give a hostile neighbor the opportunity to abuse the process and use the police to harass a neighbor, knowing the neighbor will be left with a hefty fine," she said.
Mayor Rhonda Reardon, who was absent Tuesday, was also concerned the law could be used for neighbors to harass each other, Kelley said.
Councilman Frank Ury said the law will not encourage neighbors to harass one another because a deputy must observe a noise violation, warn the offender and return before a fine can be assessed.
Kelley, who both proposed the original law and proposed it be rewritten, said she wants to accomplish three things with the ordinance:
- Enhance public safety
- Enhance "quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood"
- Free deputies to pursue more serious crimes
"Administratively it would be cumbersome to ask for cost recovery and bill the offending party," she said. "It would be logistically challenging for deputies on a call… to take in all the factors to determine the cost."
Councilman Dave Leckness criticized the proposed law, saying it should be restricted to nighttime noise. He also criticized the law's definition of a party as constituting "two or more people."
The law would be less restrictive than a similar one in place in many Orange County cities, City Attorney Bill Curley said. In Irvine, for instance, residents visited by police with multiple noise complaints receive increasingly costly penalties each time they are visited within the same year.
The council's Tuesday vote resets the legal process, meaning the city must approve the rewritten law once more, read it again for second approval during a different meeting, after which the proposal would become law in 30 days time.