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Seattle passes noise relief ordinance for Alki neighborhood

Seattle police can give out citations for engine noise that can be heard more than 75 feet away from a vehicle near Alki Beach.

Seattle City Council passed an updated noise ordinance Monday, granting Seattle police the authority to enforce excessive noise near Alki Beach.

Homeowners have long complained about loud engine noise, blaring stereos, and screeching tires on warm evenings in the beachfront community.

The council approved the ordinance 8-1, Councilmember Sawant voted against.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced the measure, which allows police to issue citations for muffler and engine noise that “can be clearly heard by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 75 feet or more from the vehicle.”

Under the previous law, police had to measure exhaust noise with sound meters, which makes enforcement difficult, Herbold said in a blog post.

A summary of the ordinance states that Seattle Police Department staff have indicated that the department does not possess noise meters. The meters are very difficult to use and require calibrations that are difficult to teach, the summary states.

Herbold’s office also examined existing laws for stereo noise and screeching tires and determined that sound meters are not needed to enforce those ordinances.

A recent survey showed noise from modified exhaust systems was the number one community concern, Herbold said.