It all started with a few noisy weddings and other get-togethers at the Depoe Bay Community Hall. There was also a downtown business that played music so loud that the whole downtown and surroundings residents could hear it well into the night. And occasionally there are noisy and raucous young adults who rent vacation homes and who make so much noise nobody with two or three blocks can get any sleep.
What to do?
The Depoe Bay City Council turned to the Oregon League of Cities, an association with professional staff that helps cities, especially small ones like Depoe Bay, come up with solutions to sticky problems…like noise. Mayor Carol Connors and the council proposed that a League of Cities model ordinance be the “starting point” for discussion. And there was a lot discussion.
The council audience seats were filled with townsfolk who were totally opposed to the ordinance since they believed it would shut down restaurant and bar music in the downtown at 10pm – a time when most of the music begins. They submitted a citizen signature petition with 180 names demanding that the ordinance not become law in Depoe Bay.
Mayor Connors told the citizens that it was never the council’s intent to shut down music in the downtown nor in any way hurt the bars and restaurants that are part of the town’s economic life’s blood. Connors said there was a recent newspaper article that inaccurately reported that the council was proposing an ordinance that would bar loud music in the downtown after 10pm. Councilor Hoitink said it came from something he said but which was taken out of context. He said it pertained to music in residential areas, not the downtown.
In the end, the crowd and the council appeared to see eye-to-eye on the proposed ordinance. Residents, musicians and business owners were much relieved that the ordinance seems aimed mostly at residential areas. But discussions produced some minor modifications dealing with what times of the day or night that elevated noise levels might be tolerated near, or in, residential areas. And, that enforcement against excessive noise-makers must be preceded by a written complaint filed at city hall with all the particulars; address, time of day or night, duration and other factors.
The model noise ordinance now goes to the Depoe Bay City Attorney who will review it, make any appropriate changes, and then return it for formal city council action. Once legally put on the books violators could face fines of up to $500 per violation.
In other council action, councilors authorized the clerk recorder to apply, on behalf of the city, for a $15,000 grant to replace the electrical boxes on all the docks in the harbor. The ones that are currently in use are rather weathered.
The council also learned that the town’s new tsunami warning sirens are just about all installed and that testing them will occur soon after.
And Mayor Connors announced that the ODOT Board of Appeals will soon be hearing Depoe Bay’s protest about not being allowed to lower the speed limit through the main downtown on 101. ODOT engineers want to keep the 30 and 35 mph speed limits as they are; the city council wants them both lowered by five miles an hour. Mayor Connors said earlier the downtown’s five lanes of traffic invites motorists to think that they’re driving on something close to a freeway and it tempts them to act like it – this despite the close quarters and big crowds trying to cross 101 during the busy tourist season.