The Sound and the Fury

A couple weeks back I posted that once again the issue of nuisance noise was coming to the City Council for yet another stab at, well, just another stab.

Just kidding…

In December the proposed ordinance was deemed lacking by Mayor Dunlap who asked that it come back in February; what that delay was supposed to accomplish is unclear, but return the item did. It resurfaced on Tuesday, and once again was half-heartedly examined and pushed away by the Council. This time they sent the matter back to the Planning Commission, that had already approved the existing proposal in November, 2023. This stall seems even more pointless than the last one. Fullerton.

The staff report was virtually unintelligible. It was nothing but a disjointed litany of actions taken (or, to be more precise, not taken) over the past 15 years to avoid doing anything and letting the scofflaw bar owners continue to scoff at the law. It didn’t say that, of course, but such was the unmistakable implication. A common thread seemed to be the difficultly in enforcing anything, which was just an excuse for not trying.

More Orwellian language…

The thrust of the revised ordinance is to raise the legal noise threshold in Downtown Fullerton. In fact the only thing the Council was considering, according to the oral staff presentation was this commercial aspect, although you’d have a hard time knowing that fact based on the material presented to the public.

The ordinance itself has baked-in failure written between every line, most notably in the increase in decibel level at 50 feet from the sources, combined with the issue of “ambient noise,” a loophole our fine Downtown club operators would be sure to drive a diesel semi through.

Joshua Ferguson made an appearance to show the nonsense of the 50 ft from property line part and noted, correctly that the the thresholds could actually create OSHA violating conditions within buildings themselves. He succinctly pointed out that the City (despite the self-congratulatory recitation of its recent enforcement efforts) wasn’t really enforcing anything at all, and showed that scofflaws were rarely even punished per the Municipal Code.

Staying awake long enough to break the law…

The proposed ordinance language seems to have been written by a staff member. But nowhere can one find evidence that any of this was approved as to form by Dick Jones, Esq. of The I Can’t believe It’s A Law Firm. What’s the point of having a lawyer if their job doesn’t include reviewing a potential law before it’s passed?

25 Replies to “The Sound and the Fury”

  1. You can’t have this noise free-for-all and promote DTF as a residential area. That’s the problem. They don’t go together.

    1. You’re right about that. It’s funny how the City tried to make downtown “happen” by approving a bunch of apartment blocks – as if to create a captive audience. That was the Terry Galvin formula. But it didn’t work of course – no better than the silly concrete trestles or the silk floss spike trees.

      But then the story took a darker turn as the City started approving restaurant conversions to de facto bars and then the conversion of bars into de facto “nightclubs.” Dr. Heehaw’s Wild West Show ensued as the City refused to make business owners comply with the law.

      Now it’s too late to do anything because the bureaucrats have fiddled, the City Council dithered, and the Alcohol Culture reigns supreme – stalling and temporizing until the next lowering of the bar (so to speak).

      The current Council has no more appetite for doing the right thing than its predecessors. Which is to say none. Putting this off again is just another dodge.

      1. And if anyone thinks I’m wrong, I point to the saga of Mario Marovic – the bar(s) owner who had a written agreement with the City and has never done anything to satisfy it. His punishment? Nada.

        1. An agreement with the Fullerton City Council means nothing. Might as well scribble it on Dick Jone’s single-ply toilet paper.

  2. Do I understand that elevated levels of noise from the bars contribute to the ambient levels of noise in the area, justifying tolerance of elevated noise from the bars?

    It’s reminiscent of presenting faux brick surfaced buildings as consistent with the newly faux-bricked downtown environment.

    1. That’s right Matthew. How else could they allow a Battle of the DJ’s outside?Just think of it as a cost cutting measure. It will be physically impossible for a noise source to be louder than the noise source. Jeramina is ready to retire and there will be no need to replace her!

  3. That “whereas” is such total bullshit. The City HAS NEVER PROTECTED ADJACENT NEIGHBORHOODS.

    Just wait Dunlap and Jung and Whitaker will go along with the other two staff boosters and it will be just like the good old days of Jerm Popoff and Jennifer Fitzforsale.

  4. Downtown Fullerton has been a source of pride and political capital for our city councils for 30 years. Why? Because nobody calls them out on it.

    DTF has lost north of $40,000,000 over the past three decades and still it’s touted as this successful endeavor. It’s made big bucks for the bar owners , and landlords, for sure, and the bureaucrats and cops getting paid. Everybody else takes care of the clean-up and all the nuisance that goes along with it.

    In reality the entire thing has been an unmitigated disaster from any objective standpoint. And still it continues.

  5. I notice Mr. Dunlap organized a baseball guy award and got a bunch of kiddies as props.

    Right out of Zahra’s playbook.

    What about standing up for Fullerton’s residents?

  6. As a non-bar non-restaurant downtown landlord who has never had any tenant who generates noise aside from participation in Day of Music…..

    It’s clear from inquiries from non-alcohol prospective tenants that in order to survive competition with online retailers and differentiate yourself from other competing businesses that their customers expect special events which include entertainment from time to time. If the city limits these non-alcohol business from having occasional entertainment, that hurts those businesses and drives more landlords to contemplate renting to bars/nightclubs.

    Daytime used to be a family environment, but with the amount of problems from homeless people, I can’t say that anymore. Even daytime customers now feel that the area is dangerous because of the out of control homeless situation. Most offices and some businesses (such as barbers and hair salons) keep their front doors locked because of transients coming in and causing problems. Fullerton PD apparently has little interest in taking care of the problem. Downtown foot/bike patrols are sorely needed. Talk to any non-alcohol business owner in downtown and they will tell you the same thing. If I had to guess (I don’t know), judging by the boarded up front door on East West Bikes, I would say their front door being smashed was probably the final straw which is causing the owner to shut the business (they will be closed for good at the end of this month).

    This isn’t a simple black and white noise issue. Pass the wrong law and it will impact the downtown in ways you may not expect. Empty spaces generate more empty spaces.

    1. Non alcohol businesses having special events that would create a noise problem? That’s pretty hard to believe. And in any event, hard cases make bad law. No one should be able to cause a public nuisance and get away with it because the City refuses to do code enforcement.

      Sorry about the homeless problem.

  7. Josh Ferguson idea about measuring closer than 50ft. Because of ambient noise is what’s sending this back to commission
    It only makes sense to me if noise is cumulative which it isn’t. The enforcement of this would be an accurate measurement because regardless of ambient noice the loudest noice is what’s being measured. Unless there are two sources playing equally loud music would be a problem with accurate enforcement.

    1. If you want to get technical on this…..doubling the intensity only increases the sound level by 3 dB.
      So if you did have very loud ambient noise that didn’t exceed the source in question you could subtract 3 decibels and positively verify a source over the limit.

      1. And what if the ambient noise is over the limit? See the problem?

        Any way you slice it it’s a race to the bottom. The whole ambient “noice” thing is a just a way to avoid doing anything.

        And what is the Planning Commission supposed to do? They already approved this.

  8. Fullerton has the following things in excess:
    1. Morons on city staff
    2. Fools on city council
    3. Liquor and drugs in DTF
    4. Homeless people everywhere

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