Zero noise citations since Aspen City Council implemented changes |

Zero noise citations since Aspen City Council implemented changes

Nearly seven months since the Aspen City Council altered downtown noise laws, the Environmental Health and Aspen Police departments are yet to issue any citations for excessive noise.

Implemented in July, the revised noise ordinance extended the 65-decibel daytime noise limit by two hours in the downtown core, from 9 to 11 p.m. After that, the limit is lowered to 60 decibels until 7 a.m.

The approved changes, which also changed the way officials record noise levels, came in response to a legal dispute between the Aspen Brewing Co. and penthouse owners Michael Sedoy and Natalia Shvachko that played out in January 2014. The couple phoned police 23 times between late December 2012 and early September 2013 to complain about noise coming from the brewery, according to court proceedings. Though the Aspen Brewing Co. received three separate citations from the city, an Aspen Municipal Court jury absolved it of any wrongdoing.

Five months later, the council supported a “louder, longer, livelier” downtown Aspen before settling on the changes. So far, the city has yet to apply the new ordinance in any situation involving noise complaints.

“As far as the core goes, it’s been very quiet on the issues front there,” Aspen’s Environmental Health Director C.J. Oliver said Wednesday.

Oliver’s department hasn’t issued a noise violation for at least 12 months, he said, though officials have made contact with about 25 people on separate issues. According to city records, the last time police issued a noise citation was in February 2014 at the Burlingame affordable-housing complex.

“The changes came from one disgruntled resident in the core, who either has left, which is fine with me, or they’ve stopped complaining,” Councilman Adam Frisch said Wednesday. “I’m not sure the problem was the noises. It might have just been some people who misunderstood what they were buying themselves into in the neighborhood.”

Though it appears to have been an isolated situation, Frisch said the jury decision showed that residents in Aspen aren’t going to squash downtown vitality so that one or two residents can open their windows. And the council decision, he said, was the right one, and it established the appropriate noise levels.

Oliver said that communication between police and his department has increased so the city can avoid future issues. He said it’s important that the city knows if multiple officers are responding to complaints at a single residence.

“That stuff comes across my desk to make sure we’re not missing anything in the core,” Oliver said.

Oliver also noted that noise complaints are more common in the summer than in the winter. He said there are two common complaints in the warmer months: noise from air conditioners and outdoor music.

“In the wintertime, all that stuff is usually closed up, and we just don’t really get in the way of complaints in the wintertime,” Oliver said.

Environmental Health typically fields three or four calls a month in the summer to investigate noise issues. Most of the time, no citations are issued, as it’s typically a dispute settled between neighbors. Even when the complaint arises from music, bars usually honor requests to keep it down.

“While we may go out, three, four, five times a month, the issuing of noise tickets is really few and far between,” Oliver said. “I would say the same thing is true for police. By and large, people will turn it down and comply with that request.”

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