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Lathrop tackling noise levels in public places
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Just how much noise is too much noise when you’re sharing a public space with other people?
Now that has been determined.
Last week the City of Lathrop introduced an ordinance that clarified the existing municipal code and set standards for the noise level inside of Lathrop’s city parks – preliminarily set as 15 decibels above the ambient sound of the area in question.
The matter came up for discussion after years of complaints from people who reserve public picnic spaces at places like Valverde Park where unruly guests nearby blast loud music that sometimes includes foul or vulgar language and dominates the entire landscape – sometimes leading to issue between parties.
If the music level for the party exceeds 15 decibels above the measured level of ambient sound, the party responsible will have to submit a request for an amplification permit from the city staff or risk facing a citation for violating the city’s municipal code.
But it wasn’t a unanimous decision by the council to approve the first reading of an ordinance that will be brought back for adoption with the Lathrop City Council meets next week. After a lengthy discussion that included input from Parks and Recreation Director Zach Jones, City Manager Steve Salvatore and Lathrop Police Chief James Hood, the council voted 3-2 – with Vice Mayor Paul Akinjo and Councilwoman Martha Salcedo – to further define the rules of proper decorum when using public spaces with other people.
According to Akinjo, the decibel number being set by the city as too loud seemed to create more questions than the effort actually answered – using the example of playing guitars or instruments when at a gathering at a park and how that could be seen as breaking the new rules regarding amplification. Jones explained that playing an acoustic guitar would not be something that the new rules would impact, but plugging in an electric guitar and turning up an amplifier would – something that didn’t satisfy Akinjo’s concerns.
Salcedo didn’t engage in the discussion on the subject before casting her dissenting vote.
According to the text of the resolution, the determination for ambient sound that will be used to establish the baseline for determining violations will be measured 15 feet in any direction from the source of the sound being utilized without a permit. Music can be played from an electronic source without a permit as long as it does not violate those guidelines – which will be measured in the event of a complaint and used to determine compliance. 
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.