California Noise Laws

California Health and Safety Code



46000. The Legislature hereby finds and declares that:

(a) Excessive noise is a serious hazard to the public health and welfare.

(b) Exposure to certain levels of noise can result in physiological, psychological, and economic damage.

(c) There is a continuous and increasing bombardment of noise in the urban, suburban, and rural areas.

(d) Government has not taken the steps necessary to provide for the control, abatement, and prevention of unwanted and hazardous noise.

(e) The State of California has a responsibility to protect the health and welfare of its citizens by the control, prevention, and abatement of noise.

(f) All Californians are entitled to a peaceful and quiet environment without the intrusion of noise which may be hazardous to their health or welfare.

(g) It is the policy of the state to provide an environment for all Californians free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare. To that end it is the purpose of this division to establish a means for effective coordination of state activities in noise control and to take such action as will be necessary to achieve the purposes of this section.

46001. No provision of this division or ruling of the Office of Noise Control is a limitation or expansion:

(a) On the power of a city, county, or city and county to adopt and enforce additional regulations, not in conflict therewith, imposing further conditions, restrictions, or limitations.

(b) On the power of any city, county, or city and county to declare, prohibit, and abate nuisances.

(c) On the power of the Attorney General, at the request of the office, the state department, or upon his own motion to bring an action in the name of the people of the State of California to enjoin any pollution or nuisance or to protect the natural resources of the state.

(d) On the power of a state agency in the enforcement or administration of any provision of law which it is specifically permitted or required to enforce or administer.

(e) On the right of any person to maintain at any time any appropriate action for relief against any private nuisance as defined in the Civil Code or for relief against any noise pollution.

46002. Nothing in this division shall be construed as giving the Office of Noise Control authority or responsibility for adopting or enforcing noise-emission standards for any product for which a regulation has been, or could be, prescribed or promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Noise Control Act of 1972.


46010. This division shall be known and may be cited as the California Noise Control Act of 1973.


46020. Unless the context otherwise requires, the definitions set forth in this chapter govern the construction of the words used in this division.

46021. "Local agency" means and includes every local agency, including a county, city, whether general law or chartered, city and county, school district, municipal corporation, district, political subdivision, or any board, commission or agency thereof, or other local public agency.

46022. "Noise" means and includes excessive undesirable sound, including that produced by persons, pets and livestock, industrial equipment, construction, motor vehicles, boats, aircraft, home appliances, electric motors, combustion engines, and any other noise-producing objects.

46023. "Office" means the Office of Noise Control.

46024. "Public agency" means and includes every state agency and every local agency.

46025. "State agency" means and includes every state office, officer, department, division, bureau, board, council, commission, or other state agency.


46040. There is within the state department an Office of Noise Control.


46050. The office shall, in order to protect health and well-being establish and maintain a program on noise control, including but not limited to:

(a) Determining the psychological and physical health effects of noise.

(b) Determining the physiological effects of noise upon plant and animal life.

(c) Monitoring noise.

(d) Collecting and disseminating authoritative information on adverse effects of noise and of means for its control.

(e) Developing, in cooperation with local governments, model ordinances for urban, suburban, and rural environments.

(f) Providing assistance to local governmental entities engaged in developing and implementing noise abatement procedures.

(g) Developing criteria and guidelines for use in setting standards for human exposure to noise.

(h) Developing standards for the use of noise-producing objects in California.

(i) Developing criteria for submission to the Legislature so that state agencies may require noise control in equipment purchased for state use.

46050.1. Notwithstanding Section 65040.2 of the Government Code, the office shall adopt, in coordination with the Office of Planning and Research and each state department and agency as it deems appropriate, guidelines for the preparation and content of noise elements as required by Section 65302 of the Government Code.

In adding Section 39850.1 to the Health and Safety Code, which was the predecessor to this section, and amending Section 65302 of the Government Code by Chapter 1124 of the Statutes of 1975, it was the intent of the Legislature to ensure, insofar as possible, that new and periodically revised noise elements in local governments' general plans be more standardized, comprehensive, and utilitarian than they had been previously.

However, the Legislature also recognized that some cities and counties had already adopted noise elements pursuant to the existing Section 65302 of the Government Code and that others had received extensions on the due date of their noise element until September 20, 1975. Those cities and counties were not required to resubmit new noise elements consistent with Section 65302 of the Government Code, or to recognize guidelines adopted pursuant to this section, but are required, upon initial and periodic revision of the noise element, to comply with Section 65302 of the Government Code and to recognize those guidelines.

The requirement that the office adopt guidelines for the preparation and content of noise elements shall be inoperative during the 1993-94 fiscal year.


46060. It is the purpose of this chapter to encourage the enactment and enforcement of local ordinances in those areas which are most properly the responsibility of local government. It is further the purpose to insure that the state is of maximum assistance to local agencies in the discharge of those responsibilities, furnishing technical and legal expertise to assist local agencies in the enactment and enforcement of meaningful and technically sufficient noise abatement measures.

46061. The office shall provide technical assistance to local agencies in combating noise pollution. Such assistance shall include but not be limited to:

(a) Advice concerning methods of noise abatement and control.

(b) Advice on training of noise control personnel.

(c) Advice on selection and operation of noise abatement equipment.

46062. The office shall provide assistance to local agencies in the preparation of model ordinances to control and abate noise. Such ordinances shall be developed in consultation with the Attorney General and with representatives of local agencies, including the County Supervisors Association of California and the League of California Cities. Any local agency which adopts any noise control ordinance shall promptly furnish a copy to the office.


46070. The director shall promote coordination of the programs of all state agencies relating to noise research, abatement, prevention, and control. Each state agency shall, upon request, furnish to the director such information as he may reasonably require to determine the nature, scope, and results of the noise research and noise control programs of the agency.

46071. On the basis of regular consultation with appropriate state agencies, the director shall compile and publish, from time to time, a report on the status and progress of state activities relating to noise research and noise control. This report shall describe the noise programs of each state agency and assess the contributions of those programs to the state's overall efforts to control noise.

46072. In any case where any state agency is carrying out or sponsoring any activity resulting in noise which the director determines amounts to a public nuisance or is otherwise objectionable, such agency shall consult with the director to determine possible means of abating such noise. This section does not apply to any action of a private person for which a license, permit, or other entitlement for use is required to be issued by a state agency.

46073. The Legislature authorizes and directs that all state agencies shall, to the fullest extent consistent with existing authority, administer the programs within their control in such a manner as to further the policy declared in Section 46000. This section shall not be construed to limit or expand the authority of any state agency to issue or deny a license, permit, or other entitlement for use.

46074. Each state agency authorized to adopt regulations in the area of noise control shall in the manner specified in subdivision (c) of Section 11423 of the Government Code give notice to and invite the comments of the office concerning any proposed adoption, amendment, or repeal of a regulation in the area of noise control.

46075. In accordance with the provisions of Section 11426 of the Government Code or other applicable law, the office may petition any public agency for the adoption of regulations or other measures otherwise within the authority of that public agency in the area of noise control.

46076. The Office of Noise Control shall maintain a program to insure that all state agencies are advised of available federal assistance and funds for noise control programs. The office may, at the request of individual agencies, act for them for the following purposes:

(a) Applying for federal funds which may be made available to the states for noise control programs or related research as a result of the Noise Control Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-574) or any other federal program or law.

(b) Receiving technical assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate the development and enforcement of state noise standards and model noise legislation.

46077. The office shall maintain a program to ensure coordinated state and federal noise control programs including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) The study of federal noise regulations proposed for adoption pursuant to the Noise Control Act of 1972.

(b) The preparation of comments, evaluations, objections or the use of any other means to ensure that the federal government considers existing California noise control statutes and regulations prior to the adoption of regulations in order to prevent the adoption of federal noise regulations weaker than existing state standards.


46080. In furtherance of his responsibilities under this division and to complement, as necessary, the noise research programs of federal agencies and of other state agencies, the director is authorized to:

(a) Conduct research, and finance research by contract with other public and private bodies, on the effects, measurement, and control of noise, including but not limited to:

(1) Investigation of the psychological and physiological effects of noise on humans and the effects of noise on domestic animals, wildlife, and property, and determination of acceptable levels of noise on the basis of such effects.

(2) Development of improved methods and standards for measurement and monitoring of noise.

(3) Determination of the most effective and practicable means of controlling noise generation, transmission, and reception.

(b) Coordinate with and become knowledgeable concerning the noise research programs of other governmental entities including the federal government.

(c) Disseminate to the public information on the effects of noise, acceptable noise levels, and techniques for noise measurement and control.


27007. No driver of a vehicle shall operate, or permit the operation of, any sound amplification system which can be heard outside the vehicle from 50 or more feet when the vehicle is being operated upon a highway, unless that system is being operated to request assistance or warn of a hazardous situation.

This section does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles or vehicles operated by gas, electric, communications, or water utilities. This section does not apply to the sound systems of vehicles used for advertising, or in parades, political or other special events, except that the use of sound systems on those vehicles may be prohibited by a local authority by ordinance or resolution.

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