By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo.) Noisy neighbors can be a daunting menace.
A loud party keeping someone awake when they have to work the next day can be infuriating. While some people may not want to get police involved, others waste no time calling the cops on their noisy neighbor.
Denver does have laws regulating noise. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, or DDPHE, handles most calls regarding noise. But police respond to complaints of disturbance of the peace, which include loud music and people arguing.
Denver’s mean age, 37, is a year younger than the national average, according to the Denver Economic Development Commission. Denver also has a drinking problem, according to data from Denver Public Health. Both of these things contribute to a festive Denver that gets noisy sometimes.
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In many Denver neighborhoods, a mixture of testosterone and alcohol spills out onto the street at closing time. Noisy fights erupt. Others take the party to a private home after the bars close, and it could be your neighbor.
Here’s what to do if a noisy neighbor is aggravating you like fingers on a chalkboard.
City has devices that measure noise
Call 311 to report “on-going or recurrent noise that crosses from one property to another property,” according to a city fact sheet on the noise ordinance. This includes noise from air conditioners, exhaust vents, early morning trash collection, construction, lawn mowers and leaf blowers.
You can’t complain about emergency sirens, they are exempt from the noise law.
Denver has a protocol for noise complaints, according to the fact sheet. The city will visit a complaint site with a device that measures sound. If the sound exceeds 55 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or 50 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the city will enforce the law.
When to call 911
If you’re reporting loud music, call the police non-emergency number at (720) 913-2000 to make a disturbing the peace report. If you’re reporting people fighting and someone may be injured, call 911. You may be asked to sign a formal complaint if an officer responds.
Denver officers never have dealt with more crime than now, according to police. Calling them for noise complaints may reduce their availability for more important matters.
And the officer will have wasted their time if they arrive at the location and the music no longer is being played, which sometimes occurs.
Reports to police not anonymous
If the officer does witness a disturbance, they may ask the complainant to file paperwork, according to police. This means a person complaining about noise won’t be anonymous to the perpetrator. In some instances, this may make people may feel unsafe.
Unlike police, who sometimes require signed complaints, confidentiality is kept when a noise complaint is handled by DDPHE, according to a fact sheet on the ordinance.
In large apartment buildings, police work with building security to document the noise. Enough complaints can lead to tenant violations and eviction.
Noisy violators can be fined $5,000
So, what happens if the city catches a noisemaker in the act, warns them, and it happens again?
“If the complaint is legitimate, the source of the noise (individual/company/organization) receives a verbal or written warning of the violation requiring a noise reduction to a legal level,” according to the city’s noise complaint webpage. “If the source does not comply with the warning, an administrative citation or a court summons is issued. If guilty, a fine of up to $5,000 per incident can be levied by the court.”
Working it out over the fence
According to the fact sheet, it is best when neighbors can work out noise disagreements amongst themselves. The DDPHE recommends:
· Be considerate with your own actions. Take care to minimize noise when installing a new air conditioner, mowing the lawn, or doing other noisy things.
· Talk to your neighbors if they are creating noise that bothers you. Often, a courteous request will solve the problem.
· Call 311 to file a complaint. Be prepared to give the dispatcher your name, address, and telephone number. This is needed for keeping you updated on the status of your complaint.
· Give the dispatcher information on the noise source, including the address, noise type, and dates and times when noise occurs, and a contact name and number at the source.
· For noise from trash trucks, construction and deliveries, refer to the city’s web page on noise.
Denver police do respond to noise complaints. Chronic noisemakers can expect police to knock on their door eventually if they can’t keep it down.