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Everything You Need to Know About Noise Laws

Noise in San Francisco that's five decibels higher than ambient noise levels is illegal. If you make a complaint, a city agent will come out with a noise meter and issue a fine.

If you live in San Francisco and noisy neighbors or construction is driving you up the wall, rest assured that you live in a city with some of the most specific and prohibitive noise laws out there. Article 29 of San Francisco’s police code details the city’s extremely specific rules for noise. The jist is that it's against the law to create noise that is more than five decibels louder than the ambient noise in a residential property. You're probably wondering how to figure that out, what the exceptions are and what you can do to make it stop. Keep reading to find out.

What's not allowed

Construction is allowed during daytime hours any day of the week. Any kind of construction between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. is illegal.

Night hours for residential noise complaints are between 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

How to make it stop

The SF law states what time of day noise complaints may be investigated, which differs based on the source of the noise.

If you make a noise complaint, government agents have to use a specific meter when measuring the decibels of a sound. When investigating a noise complaint from a neighboring apartment, the microphone used to measure the sound must be three feet away from any walls. When investigating noise pollution coming from outside an apartment, windows must be open 25%.

In San Francisco, these rules are enforced, investigated by, and should be reported to the Department of Public Health. Which phone number you call will depend on the source of the noise, and all of the phone numbers can be found on their website, but if you have a general complaint about a loud noise that hasn’t stopped then you should call the SFPD non emergency line: 415-553-0123.

Section 2917 of the cities noise regulation states that a violation of these rules will result in penalties. A first offense can result in a fine of up to $100, a second can result in a fine of up to $200, and a third can result in a fine of up to $300.

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