How do I stop noise from a neighboring nightclub?
January 24, 2006 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Noisy nightclub filter: What are the appropriate steps one should take to efficiently address, and ultimately stop, repeated noise violations from a neighboring nightclub?

A nightclub in my neighborhood recently changed ownership and has begun to play loud music literally all nights of the week. I live a full city block away from the nightclub but hear the music clearly since it's at concert decibel levels. On one occasion they played the music past 2am. They have also host live bands and my suspicion is they lack the proper license for this activity.

The only step I have taken thus far is to contact the police non-emergency number when the incidents occur. The dispatcher has informed me that many other people are calling in with complaints. Police response has been mixed. For example, last night I requested that an officer stop at my home so that I could file a formal complaint but no one ever arrived.

I have all the contact information I need to move forward. This includes the phone numbers for the noise abatement department and the name of the officer that deals with these occurrences. This also includes the numbers for community action committees and the office of the supervisor. I have not confronted the owner regarding this problem.

Before I begin fighting this battle I would like advice from other people on how to proceed. What worked and what didn't? What should I avoid and what should I pursue? Bonus points if your advice is specific to San Francisco.
posted by quadog to Law & Government (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It appears that this is the relevant noise control ordinance for San Fran.

Get a decibel meter and start taking pictures of it beside a clock to record the noise violations.
posted by docgonzo at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2006

This article from The Pitch details how a neighborhood association banded together to bring the club to court. The club basically gave the guy the finger (though debatedly, it was an old grump who didn't like any clubs in the neighborhood). If I remember correctly the club ended up closing due to a revocation of its liquor license and a lot of other problems that were exposed due to the lawsuit. It looks better if you're not the only one complaining, that the whole neighborhood does not appreciate the noise.
posted by geoff. at 11:12 AM on January 24, 2006

In addition to the police, I'd suggest both the Fire Department and City Hall. It's the squeeky wheel...
posted by pwb503 at 12:22 PM on January 24, 2006

(IANAL; answer comes from Business Law class notes) The noise drifts onto your property, so it is a nuisance a.k.a. non-particulate trespass, which falls under the heading "intentional tort." If the cops don't respond adequately, you can sue in civil court – all you have to prove is preponderance of evidence (a la docgonzo's suggestion). Or get an injunction. If they violate the injunction, someone goes to jail. That should stop it.
posted by fourstar at 12:24 PM on January 24, 2006

hire a lawyer.
posted by delmoi at 12:29 PM on January 24, 2006

What I mean is, if the police don't care, you might have to take them to cort to get an injunction against them playing loud music. Cops in SF probably have more pressing worries.
posted by delmoi at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2006

Have you talked to your neighbours? That should be the first step. Find a few like-minded neighbors that can help you form an "X Neighbourhood Noise Abatement Action Committee".

San Fran really does have some stringent requirements. The real way to educate yourself about the requirements is to read the policies, but another San Fran club that had to do major renovations was the DNA Lounge, which re-opened in 2001 after doing some major renovations to comply with permitting regulations. Here's the brief on what they had to change to come into compliance, and here's their Permits listing page that will give you the pertinent details, and here's the start of their weblog, which covers everything they had to do step by step to get the club redone, and all the permitting hurdles.
posted by SpecialK at 12:47 PM on January 24, 2006

Grr. The Permits link broke.
posted by SpecialK at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2006

Also - get your neighbors involved. We had a business in our neighborhood that became a nuisance - it wasn't fun - but they now have to leave by order of the Planning department by the end of March.
Start by calling your supervisor. Then start canvassing the neighbors for people who will join your cause. In my experience -you and your group of neighbors will be helped immensely by a lawyer. Hopefully a generous one is also being affected by the noise.
Document everything - keep calling the police even if they don't show. Take your own recordings. Be careful, though, we had some neighbors threatened - and even beaten up - for attempting to document / photograph some of the nasty behavior on our block.
We started with community meetings where the owner of the business and his customers showed up as well as the neighbors and we all vented - with the head guy from our local police precinct, our supervisor and someone from the planning commission. Oh yeah - call the planning commission - you'll meet Larry Badiner in your fight sooner or later.
While the meetings and the trips to city hall were a pain in the toochas and felt "unfair" that we had to fight so hard to live without this nuisance - it did do a lot to bring the neighborhood together. We are a lot more connected which has been the great unexpected bonus in all this. Email is username at gmail is you want to discuss SF city planning in any more excrutiating detail...
posted by Wolfie at 12:54 PM on January 24, 2006

Response by poster: Have you talked to your neighbours? That should be the first step.

Also - get your neighbors involved.

No, I haven't reached out to the residents in the neighborhood as of yet but it appears that it will require strength in numbers to resolve the problem. May need some advice on organizing this . . . never had to deal with this situation before.

After some research this afternoon I also discovered that the new nightclub owner is socially connected to the district supervisor so this may be an uphill battle.
posted by quadog at 2:21 PM on January 24, 2006

After some research this afternoon I also discovered that the new nightclub owner is socially connected to the district supervisor so this may be an uphill battle.

Yeah, that's easy to handle. Those kind of relationships tend to fall apart in the media spotlight real quick-like. And they don't hold up at all in court.
posted by SpecialK at 4:14 PM on January 24, 2006

Did you move somewhere groovy with cafes, bookstores and bars and now you can't sleep at night?

Who was there first? Has there always been a club/venue there?

In Sydney (Australia) they are bringing in legislation to stop the gentrifying johnny-come latelies from turning vibrant inner city neighbourhoods into retirement villages. I believe Melbourne already has similar legislation in place.

Hurrah, I say.
posted by hifimofo at 6:16 PM on January 24, 2006

I moved.
posted by any major dude at 6:43 PM on January 24, 2006

hmmm, I'm guessing you don't want to tell me what club it is. I hope not Shine, which just came under new ownership by some friends of friends.

have you tried talking to the owners at all? i dunno, sometimes the threat of action can be as effective as action itself.
posted by lannanh at 9:13 PM on January 24, 2006

The first thing you should do is talk to the nightclub owners.
Tell them you were fine with the way the club was before, that you want to be able to sleep at night and are sure that they realize that being good neighbors is in their best interest.
Be a good neighbor yourself by communicating your concerns politely, in person, and then if they don't respond, start organizing your neighbors and/or contacting your supervisor.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:43 PM on January 24, 2006

Response by poster: I'm guessing you don't want to tell me what club it is. I hope not Shine.

Have no fear, lannanh. It is not Shine.

Thanks for the solid advice everyone.
posted by quadog at 10:27 AM on January 25, 2006

Thanks for alleviating my fear quadog.

Shines a great place (9th and Mission) w/ this nifty photo booth that post right to flikr, it's pretty cool. (I think they're working on it right now, hehe)
posted by lannanh at 3:30 PM on January 25, 2006

« Older Is there such a thing as an anti-refund?   |   Black and blue Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.