It was 7’o clock the day before the big concert. Everyone in the band including me had been playing their hearts out to trying to get ready, only to be interrupted by a knock on the garage door. At first we thought it was our third guitarist Josh who had left only 5 minutes before the knock had occurred. We yelled, “Who is it?” We were then answered by, “Elk Grove Police Department!” We were all shocked. We quickly opened up the garage to find out what the problem was. The police officer informed us that several of my neighbors have complained about the noise. We tried to find out which neighbor it was, but the officer wouldn’t give us any details. The officer informed us that we were in violation of the law against disturbing the peace. However, this law is unclear and needs to be made more specific. The law against disturbing the peace should be modified to better clarify to the offendee how they are violating such law and what they can do to follow it. A change in such a law would help police officers to better enforce it as well as give some rights to the struggling musicians who are only trying to practice in the comfort of their own homes.
In General, disturbing the peace laws are very unclear, and most people are unaware how they are violating it. According to section 10.16.010 of the San Jose Noise Ordinance, “No person shall disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of any neighborhood by creating therein any disturbing or unreasonably loud noise.” (10 PUBLIC PEACE, MORALS AND WELFARE) What really is “unreasonably loud?” This statement is mainly an opinion because it sets no guidelines or definite rules to follow, only leaving it to a neighbor’s opinion. To some people, a crying baby would be unreasonably loud, to others, maybe a barking dog. Second off, there is not a clear decibel limit to the law. There needs to be a certain limit on how loud the noise is from a certain distance away, such as 100 feet from the property line. If I could change this, I would say that there should be a decibel test one hundred feet from the property in which is being tested. If the sound pressure is over a certain limit, then and only then would the amplification devise be in violation of the code. Lastly, if there is a time limit, then why isn’t it being enforced? According to an officer at EGPD, “The law is in effect at ten’o clock.” If so, then why did the cops come at 7:30? She believes, “only the major consequences come after ten p.m., anyone can be disturbing the peace at any time and any place.” For this law to be effective, there needs to be set guidelines. These guidelines must include a time and how loud you can be at that time. If one is in line with the decibel limit, and time limit, then there should be no problem. The decibel system would ultimately make this law easier to follow as well as to enforce.
A neighborhood is said to be a peaceful place, for people unwind after a long day of work in the comforts of their homes. Some might say that neighborhoods and houses are places for families and friends to get together and catch up on their day. A neighborhood is not a place for a band to practice and disturb the previously established peace and quiet. My opinion about a neighborhood is about supporting each other and their endeavors or pursuits, because it is nice to hear neighbor’s doing what they love, as long as it is not over the limits. For example, when I walk down the street is it nice hearing little Sofia playing and filling the streets with the beautiful music of her piano. Neighborhoods should support each other, and if they come to a dispute, they should try to settle it out on their own.
Musicians have the right to practice in their home, and no law should take that away from them. Freedom of expression is in our bill of rights, it is a right that no one can take away from us. Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote that, “the First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit a spirit that demands self-expression.” This self expression is what bands strive on. The whole point of a band is to express themselves and their feeling through music; the government is only trying to take that right away from us through the wording of his disturbing the peace laws. According to the Webster’s dictionary, freedom of speech is defined as, “the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations (as the power of the government to avoid a clear and present danger).” First off, this law starts out clearly worded until at the very end it says, “reasonable limitations” this could be used for another loophole for the government because the quote is followed by the parenthesized, “as the power of the government to avoid a clear and present danger” Because of the parenthesized text, the law clears up any spots that could be unclear. This should be the same for the disturbing the peace law. After it says, “unreasonably loud,” there should be a parenthesized portion stating the specifics of unreasonably loud noise. Therefore, if the law was made clearer it would then give the struggling musicians a guideline for how loud and when they could play the expressive music. (Freedom of speech)
In conclusion, the struggling musician has many hoops he must jump through in order to practice and get better. One needs to find a reasonable hour to take part in his practicing. Next, one needs to be at a reasonable sound level. Most importantly, he or she needs the support of his or her neighbors, without that, he or she won’t get anywhere with his music. Therefore, this law must be added to in order to make the law more clear for the officer and the offendee, thus giving them more established guidelines for them to work with.
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“Freedom of Speech.” Dictionary.com. Webster’s Dictionary. 23 Mar. 2006 .