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Senator Portantino’s Bill to Curb Noise Pollution Passes Senate Transportation Committee

Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | 11:27 am
Senator Anthony Portantino via Facebook

SB 1079, a measure introduced by State Senator Anthony Portantino (D –Pasadena) to allow cities to monitor noise pollution by using sound activated devices, passed the Senate Transportation Committee today.

“Although there are regulations in place for vehicles that contribute to harmful noise pollution, there is no universal procedure to monitor and enforce these restrictions,” Portantino said. “The lack of enforcement allows people with loud exhaust systems to continue to harm the health and wellbeing of those around them. SB 1079 is an effective way to reduce noise and pollution and improve quality of life in our communities.”

Streets for All, a nonprofit organization that advocates for street safety, is a sponsor of the measure.

Noise pollution is an unwanted or disturbing sound that causes adverse reactions for humans and other living creatures. Loud noises in the street can disrupt walking or cycling, but also can cause hearing loss and pose dangers to physical and cognitive health. Exposure to loud sounds has been shown to raise levels of stress hormones, including cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronically high levels of these hormones can impact heart disease, hypertension, stroke, immune responses, and cognitive functioning.

“For years illegally loud exhausts — especially prominent in street racing — have plagued our cities and disrupted the peace,” said Michael Schneider, Founder of Streets For All. “This important bill will allow cities to enforce the law without armed police enforcement.”

Specifically, SB 1079 would authorize six local jurisdictions to use sound-activated enforcement devices to capture vehicle noise levels that exceed legal limits. Under California Vehicle Code, exhaust noise is limited to 95 decibels (dbA) for vehicles and 80 dbA for motorcycles. However, vehicle owners can install new exhaust systems or make other vehicle modifications that change the level of sound produced by their vehicle. These illegal modifications are accessible and easily installed at any in-home garage, resulting in much louder noise disruptions than would be allowed by law.

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