Leaf blowers before 7 in the morning. Booming stereos after 10 at night. Car and house alarms blaring longer than 15 minutes.
All will be specifically outlawed in unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County if supervisors agree tonight to pass a proposed noise ordinance.
The proposed law also frowns on car stereos at any time of day that can be heard 50 feet away, or music from 200 feet whether live or amplified. People using power tools or playing loud music any time between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. could be cited as well.
Violators of the nuisance noise ordinance could be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $400 for subsequent citations.
"We're all for people having a good time, but there has to be an element of courtesy for the people around you," Sheriff Adam Christianson said. His deputies or other county employees could be armed with "sound level meters," a report reads, though they would first try simply asking people to knock off whatever is bothering others, he said.
Usually, it's loud music, the sheriff said.
"Our goal is not to hand out citations, but to get people to comply," Christianson said. His office and that of the district attorney worked with county lawyers to draft the proposed ordinance, which makes it an infraction to produce "unnecessary, excessive and annoying noise."
The ordinance would excuse farming noises, garbage trucks, locomotives, aircraft and emergency vehicle sirens, as well as singing and preaching in religious events. Permits for parades and firework displays also provide exemptions. Landscapers or construction workers wouldn't have to worry as long as they observe time limits.
Cities have their own rules and are not subject to the county's.
Tonight's action follows an interim rule adopted in October 2006 that focused on "loud and raucous noises." That rule singled out barking dogs and squawking fowl as well as steam engines and specific musical instruments including drums, guitars and horns.
The ordinance being reviewed today mentions none of those but includes scientific tables listing measurable levels and duration of sound with corresponding limits set by neighborhood type, such as residential or commercial. "Noise sensitive" areas -- those close to a school, hospital, church, rest home, cemetery or library -- require more peace, according to the proposal.
Technical definitions give meaning to terms such as "weighted sound levels," "impulsive noise" and "ambient noise levels," but may not be helpful to the average person.
An example: " 'Pure tone noise' means any noise that is distinctly audible as a single pitch (frequency) or set of pitches. A pure tone noise shall exist if the one-third octave band sound pressure level in the band with the tone exceeds the arithmetic average of the sound pressure levels of the two contiguous one-third octave bands by 5 dB for center frequencies of 500 Hz and above and by 8 dB for center frequencies of between 160 and 400 Hz and 15 dB for center frequencies less than or equal to 125 Hz."
The proposed ordinance outlaws vibrations reaching neighboring homes and includes a measurement formula with a similar technical definition.
Christianson's deputies would be allowed to disconnect home or vehicle alarms sooner than the required 15-minute cutoff if they can figure out how, the ordinance reads.
"This gives us another tool to get people to use common courtesy," the sheriff said Monday.
On the Net: www.stancounty.com/bos/agenda/2010/Ag01-19-10.pdf.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2390.