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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Emeryville Noise Ordinance Fails Relevancy Test (Again)

Favored Developer Tests Noise Ordinance,
Residents Lose

Wareham Breaks Law Four Times & is Rewarded By Council

Emeryville's Noise Ordinance, a 2003 law designed to protect resident's reasonable desires for some peace and quiet in a massively re-developing town, traditionally has not been able to stand up to the interests of developers and Emeryville's new progressive City Council, like their conservative predecessors showed us Tuesday they also have no interest in enforcing the ordinance.  In a 5-0 vote, the Council granted a waiver to Wareham Development to work Saturdays starting in May to help the corporation as they work on the controversial 'Transit Center' office tower project on Horton Street.

The waiver now gives official permission for Saturday work to Wareham who has already been busy working Saturdays in violation of the ordinance.  And tellingly, beyond simply granting a waiver for no reason other than helping Wareham increase its profit margin, the Council also saw fit to pardoning Wareham for the four previous violations of the Noise Ordinance over the last six Saturdays in which the police had to intervene to stop work at the site.
Wareham Gets a Pardon
The City Council is so incensed with
Wareham constantly violating our
Noise Ordinance, they're getting
rid of the ordinance so Wareham won't
have anything to violate. 

Emeryville's Weakest Law
The Noise Ordinance has never been enforced.  Indeed, the whole thing has served a different function; making City Council members look good to the cameras as they feign support for the ordinance.
Usually when developers seek to get a waiver for the Noise Ordinance from the City Council, a reason 'beyond their control' is offered such as an unusual amount of rain (even during a drought year as embarrassingly was the case for Turner Construction and the ECCL).  However Wareham on Tuesday only offered that certain jobs they need to complete for the construction of the Transit Center (welding, pouring concrete) are especially impactful and these components should be done on weekends because...well, no reason was given to that question.  The fact that these components of the job being loud and impactful (precisely the reason why the Noise Ordinance was passed; to protect our weekends from this) was not seen as something the community would object to by the Council, illustrates how inconsequential the ordinance is.

The four recent violations of the ordinance by Wareham have been assigned police department 'event numbers' but no provisions within the ordinance itself provides for a remedy for the residents or punishment against violators, leaving the resident's interests unsupported except by the City Council, if it were of a mind to support them.  However Tuesday's Council action, rewarding lawbreakers, tells the developer and business world that regardless of recent City Council elections, their interests are still sacrosanct in Emeryville at least when it comes to crashing and banging on weekends in our town.

Caught Again!
Transit Center workers get caught working on another Saturday in violation of our Noise Ordinance.  The workers tried to palm off the loud concrete form work as "cleaning" but they were cited (no fines) by police for violating the ordinance.  Wareham Spokesman Geoff Sears told the City Council Tuesday that workers have merely been "dewatering" the site after rain storms, a claim not supported by the observations of the Emeryville Police.


  1. The noise ordinance has been enforced. I was dinged years ago when I was remodling my home. Caught working Saturday and forced to stop. I asked if I could get permission and the police told me no.

    1. Yes, I've heard from others like you on this. A critical component of the Noise Ordinance is revealed by the telling of your run in with the police. First of all the police are in no position to tell you no to that and the give-a-way in your story are the words "my home". The ordinance is meant to stop residents like you, not developers. It would have been interesting if you had simply continued on with your work on Saturdays in violation of the law like Wareham does, or Pixar or any of the rest of them. Something tells me it wouldn't have worked out as well for you as it does for them. It's likely it would have ended with a new noise; the click click sound of handcuffs going on.