The Whiteaker is known for its vibrant cultural scene, but some residents say that the nighttime noise level is making sleep difficult, and say it could be time to revise the Eugene noise ordinance to be decibel-based and less subjective. Under Eugene’s current noise code, a noise disturbance can be any sound that “annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities.”
Representatives from Ninkasi, which sometimes hosts bands on its patio, voiced concerns about the proposed changes. “Ultimately the Whiteaker is one of the few mixed-use neighborhoods in Eugene, and with all the great benefits from that come a few challenges as well,” Ninkasi co-founder Nikos Ridge writes in an email. “Success will lie in the ability of each of the different stakeholders, residential, commercial and industrial, to be willing to see other perspectives and work out mutually acceptable agreements together.”
“It’s primarily directed at some of the bars and nightlife places that stay open and have loud music — and then their patrons wandering back to their cars and talking loud and slamming their doors and such,” says Duncan Rhodes, secretary of the Whiteaker Community Council. Rhodes says that part of the issue is the rise of the microbrew culture in the Whiteaker, which can come with outdoor bands.
The meeting included a discussion of using Portland’s and Ashland’s noise codes as a starting place. “It appears that a general rule of thumb is maybe 50 dBA in the evenings, after 10 at night and before 7 in the morning, which is not very loud,” Rhodes says. The decibel level would be measured at the property line. According to a publication from the Menlo Park Police, 60 dBA is approximately equal to the noise level when standing 30 feet away from a car traveling 30 mph; the Federal Railroad Administration says train whistles, like those in the Whiteaker, are measured between 90 and 110 dBA from 100 feet away. He says that the WCC plans to get Whiteaker-area businesses involved so that any changes don’t inhibit businesses from moving to the Whiteaker.