Guide to Laws About Noise in the San Francisco Area

What are the general noise restrictions in the SF area?

Throughout the state of California it is a crime to create a “disturbance of the peace” by maliciously creating a “loud and unreasonable noise.” Violations may result in up to 90 days in county jail and/or fine of up to $400.1Penal Code 415

It is also a crime to cause or maintain a “public nuisance” which interferes with the “comfortable enjoyment of life or property” by a community.2Penal Code 370, 372 Violations of this are generally a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and/or fine of up to $1000.3Penal Code 19

And you can also be sued for a public nuisance, or for a “private” nuisance where the offense is only against one individual.4Civil Code 3479, 3480, 3481

More specifically, in the city of San Francisco, it is illegal to create or cause any noise greater than 5 decibels (dBA) above the ambient level in residential areas, and greater than 8 decibels (dBA) above the ambient level in commercial or industrial areas.5San Francisco Police Code Sec 2909

Also, it is illegal to “use, operate, maintain, or permit to be played, used, or operated any radio or television receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, juke box, broadcasting equipment, or other machine or device for the producing, reproducing, or amplification of sound or human voice in such manner as to produce raucous noises or in such manner so as to disturb the peace, quiet, and comfort of persons in the neighborhood or with volume louder than is necessary for convenient hearing for the person or persons for whom said machine, instrument, or device is operated.”6SF Health Code Sec 49

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