Council Direction Phase 1 - Community Input - Fall 2023 Council Work Study - Jan. 2024 Drafting of Ordinance - In Progress Phase 2 - Community Input Fall 2024


Scottsdale is home to many special events and bustles with restaurants and entertainment, and the sound associated with these activities can sometimes cause issues for Scottsdale residents and businesses.

The city is evaluating potential ordinance changes and other mitigation methods that could ease the impacts from unreasonable noise while maintaining a vibrant and successful event and business environment.

In Spring 2023, the Special Noise Ordinance Committee was formed to examine the existing ordinance. This group consisted of city staff from the City Manager's Office, Police, Planning, Special Events & Tourism, Office of Communication, City Attorney's Office and Information Technology. The group worked together to identify opportunities for the City to improve monitoring and enforcement of regulations to ensure that Scottsdale is doing everything it can to manage the impacts of sound.

Phase 1 - Outreach

In November, three in-person sessions were held where residents and business owners were provided with information pertaining to the current ordinance and its challenges, the science behind sound and the overall timeline of what we have achieved and what we hope to accomplish.

Participants called for a nuanced approach in determining potential changes to the ordinance, including the types of sound and frequencies that should be addressed, time of day, and levels of enforcement. Participants emphasized the need for fair and reasonable regulations, taking into account the impact on residential areas. The verification of complaints, considerations for event venues, sound mitigation efforts were also discussed. Overall, there is a consensus that a comprehensive review and update of the current ordinance are necessary to address the complex and multifaceted nature of the noise issue in the city.

The debate also delved into the feasibility of implementing decibel levels as criteria, with flexibility for weekends, timeframes and different events and venues. Suggestions included using sound cameras, scaling of sound levels, and exploring technology for identifying the source of complaints, with a preference for measuring at the source. There is a consensus that the current ordinance needs revision for uniformity, but with a consideration of different zones and levels for sound generation.

The issue of exemptions for specific events like Spring Training and Super Bowl is discussed, with opinions split. Concerns about financial interests prioritizing venues over taxpayers are voiced as well as whether existing establishments should be grandfathered in. Concerns about ambient noise, the term "exempt" in the ordinance, and the impact on long-time residents were noted.

Participants expressed frustration over unresolved complaints and advocated for fair, reasonable and enforceable consequences for non-compliant establishments. Other proposed solutions involved disclosure of potential noise issues to buyers, advanced notification of events, and enhancing the complaint process. Incorporating acoustic considerations for sound mitigation was also highlighted.

Council Work-study

On Jan. 23, 2024, the Special Noise Ordinance Committee presented their findings and offered suggestions regarding next steps. During this discussion with City Council, the Committee received consensus to move forward with drafting an updated ordinance that would balance the rights of property owners and the business community when it comes to sound levels and events. In addition, they received direction to continue enforcement of the existing ordinance while conducting further analysis of sound, garnering public feedback and identifying best practices for enforcement.

Phase 2 - Draft Review

The Special Noise Violations Ordinance staff working group continues to draft proposed changes to the ordinance, working through some of the involved complexities. It is still scheduled for possible City Council adoption in late fall. The next round of public outreach will occur in the coming months. Residents and businesses will be able to offer input on the current draft, which is based on the feedback provided by City Council at the January 2024 work study session and the first round of public outreach. Fall public outreach will avoid conflicts in participation when many residents plan summer travel and vacations. The City Council and public will be updated as this process continues.

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