A Pinal County case has led to a bill in the Legislature that would standardize enforcement of noise complaints. While sponsor Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, is seeking to protect constituents like the owner of Hitching Post restaurant in Apache Junction from unequal enforcement, the bill also could protect countless Arizonans who are subjected to noise pollution from disrespectful drivers and others.
The owner of the restaurant, Mehmood Mohiuddin, has dealt with repeated citations for excessive noise, much of it related to bull riding events that are held several nights a week. Townsend says state law refers to a public nuisance as something interfering with “the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood or by a considerable number of persons” in a way that is “offensive to the senses or an obstruction to the free use of property.” She says the law is too vague, leading to unfair prosecution in some cases.
The bill, which cleared the House Committee on Regulatory Affairs on a 5-1 vote Monday, would require measurement of sound with a calibrated meter. That brings objections that the cost of outfitting police cars would be excessive, drawing a comparison to the radar guns used to catch speeders, which have to be calibrated. One legislator, on the other hand, found sound meters available for from $19.90 to $376.95 online.
Police officers carry a lot of gear these days, and sound equipment certainly would not be the most complicated or expensive. Adding another item may seem burdensome, but officers already are forced to deal with noise complaints, many of them coming with recordings done on cellphones. Gadgets are plentiful now, and many of them are not expensive.
Townsend’s bill may require some more research, but having a better way to enforce noise complaints certainly would be desirable, especially if it applied to vehicles as well. The beneficiaries would include people who are forced to listen to drivers who see a need to intrude on anyone within earshot.