San Luis Obispo recognized for excessive noise

April 30, 2019

Loud music, noisy motorcycles, drunks spilling onto the sidewalks at bar time, rowdy behavior on Hiquera Street. Downtown San Luis Obispo can be a rather noisy place.

And now Noise Free America has recognized San Luis Obispo with its Noisy Dozen Award for April 2019.

Noise Free America’s press release:

San Luis Obipso, California, an otherwise gorgeous community half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for allowing an avalanche of noise from motorcycles, loud car stereos, dirt bikes, and leaf blowers. While San Luis Obispo is home to a near-perfect climate, seven mountain peaks, and nearby beaches, the city’s noise levels render it “paradise lost.”

Jack Sheridan, a 43-year resident of San Luis Obispo, commented that “SLO’s noise issue is the challenge of living among 25,000 Cal Poly students. I used to live across the street from the university but in 1995 I escaped to 20 acres five miles outside of town. I work as a locomotive engineer and must sleep at odd times of the day. Noise has always made that difficult.

It is mostly quiet where I am now, but after 23 years in rural SLO, I discovered there are two types who move to the country. One seeks quiet and privacy. The other wants a motorcycle track and a shooting range. Today, my neighbors are among the former but it takes only one property sale and I could have a gun range and dirt bike track next door. “

“The noises that plague me,” says Sheridan, “are guns, motorcycles, and dirt bikes. Unfortunately, it is legal to shoot outside the city. Dirt bikes are my biggest complaint. I feel my heart rate increase whenever I hear them in the distance. Awful! Harleys with modified exhaust mufflers are a problem in town whenever some aged idiot cruises up and down Higuera and Marsh Streets. These olds guys remind me of kids putting cards in the spokes of their bicycles. To what end? A 10 year-old seeks this attention, but a 60 year-old?!”

Greg Koby, a San Luis Obispo resident, says that “noise pollution is at epidemic levels. It’s happening so often that it’s being normalized. People are frustrated that calls to the police effect no permanent change. Some are too afraid to speak out; some call it ‘noise terrorism.’ Local government refuses to take the emergency actions required.”

In San Luis Obispo, states Koby, “Cars and motorcycles use illegal and dangerous after-market mufflers. Boom cars use dangerous sub-woofers and speaker systems that threaten permanent hearing loss for passers-by. The constant sleep disruption has short-term and long-term health effects. This a contributing factor to upsurge in violence in this country.”

“Live elsewhere?” asks Koby. “I’m low-income; my choices are severely limited. In town, heavy bass pollution happens everywhere, including parking garages, the art museum, community meetings, and walking down the street.”

According to Koby, “Oprah got it wrong. This town is a noise hell. I’m counting down the months, weeks, and days until I finally move.”

Ted Rueter is the director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet and is a former San Luis Obispo resident. He states that he “loves everything about SLO—except the noise. Downtown is full of thunderously loud motorcycles and booming car stereos. Also, the city is overrun with gas-powered leaf blowers. SLO officials should take strong action against these sources of unnecessary, harmful noise.”

Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization devoted to noise reduction. San Luis Obispo also “won” the Noisy Dozen award in April 2004.

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I’ve been hit by cars three times on my motorcycles over the years. A lot of guys know you (non motorcycle riding drivers) only actually look for cars, not motorcycles, and they depend on the noise to alert you to their smaller presence. The truth about Harley engines in particular, is that they actually LOSE performance by removing the (horsepower robbing) stock pipe with ‘drag pipes’. This heavily quoted Sheridan guy throws such a bunch of rubbish out there that it is only his bias I can hear. The OPPOSITE happens to me when I hear bikes or gunfire. I love it.

Noise tax, good one.

It will help pay for all those management raises, and help with that pension obligation shortfall.

This is old news. It is long the official position of the SLO Police Department to ignore even the loudest pipes on motorcycles. (Ask a SLOPD motor officer the last time they cited one, ask the chief). It is already citable if a car stereo is audible fifty feet from the vehicle (CVC oops can’t find the section) .

It is already citable if a motorcycle “exhaust” is modified to be louder (unless older than 1980 as an antique 40 CFR205) (CVC 27150/CVC27151) and if is a recent model must have a federally certified and stamped quiet exhaust (CVC27202.1). Spoiled cops don’t care and are participatory: google Choir Boys LEMC (a Los Angeles-based loud cops motorcycle club, google Iron-Men LEMC ditto for the local patch affiliate).

This county grand jury in it’s findings over ten years ago declared leaf blower internal combustion engines to be hazardous to human health. CDCP in Atlanta says the same thing. NIH in Bethesda says the same thing. (Tied to cortisol, stress and heart disease increases, medically documented over and over.)

Get used to it. Those in power do nothing and do not care. Russ J is correct. Noise check! And the aftermarket lobby, SEMA, will never allow it. Good call Russ.

No muffler exists for raging intellectual adolescents. A simple requirement to noise check each vehicle when you get your bi-annual smog check would help with the persistent drone of inconsiderate motor heads. The multi-million aftermarket automotive companies would never allow that to happen. Political prostitution is legal in this country.

People already paying for a smog check when it should be included in the overpriced DMV fees. The smog inspectors should get all the same benefits as state employees .

As long as the students vote for the likes of Harmon, Hill , Gibson, Parkinson, Dow and the rest of the club just leave them alone, but we may need to still scare them once in a while so they don’t get any ideas to start voting the other way.

Don’t they know that it’s party time in SLO for the tourists and students. Just bring that money and do whatever they want.

Did Cal Coast News mean to publish this on April 1st? This is a joke, right?

I was curious who the other eleven cities were in the “Noisy Dozen.” I scoured the Noise Free America site and could not find any reference to a “list” of cities. They have a page where they ask you to nominate your city for the Dirty Dozen, but they don’t explain what it means. There is also no criteria listed for how they choose a city to get the “award.”

I’m wondering if someone simply nominated SLO to a thinly read website, and they ran with it just based upon that, with no objective data.

If someone knows the criteria or a list of cities on the “Dozen” please let me know.

By the way, yes, I think the city is noisy. But so is just about any other town I go to, especially college towns. Worst noise: DOGS! Owners, please put bark collars on your dogs.

Noise tax, on the way.