PASO ROBLES — In a relatively quick meeting, the Paso Robles City Council made a couple of adjustments to the City’s first noise ordinance and extended the residential conversion moratorium without a peep from the public on Dec. 3.
It was one of the shorter meetings of the year, lasting just shy of 90 minutes.
Introduced a month ago, the City’s first attempt at curtailing noise nuisances was pulled from the consent portion of the agenda on Dec. 3 by Councilmember John Hamon. Staff recommended some tweaks and clarifications related to enforcing the ordinance and Council passed it with a 5-0 vote.
Director of Development Warren Frace said there was some confusion by the public when it came to noise generated by private parties. The ordinance makes a provision that private functions can produce sound for an extended period of time on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday through Thursday, noise from private parties must stop at 10 p.m., but is allowed to go until midnight on the two following days.
Frace said City staff introduced a restrictive noise section in the ordinance that lists several that are automatically enforceable. He listed specific sound nuisances that do not require the taking of noise measurements or technical interpretations. Items involving any sound from radios/devices at 100 feet, animals, alarms, loading, vibrations and private parties at the previously stated times are considered automatic violations.
“The purpose of the restrictive noise section is basically to give the police or code enforcement officers the ability to just tell someone that it has to cease without going through the actual noise calibration process,” said Frace.
Frace stated that the RNS adds a stricter set of guidelines than previously set. For example, if a radio can be heard from 100 feet away, then it is a violation of the ordinance no matter the level of decibels of sound it is producing.
“If dogs are barking, it doesn’t matter how loud they are,” Frace said, “if they are an annoyance, they are not allowed.”
The Council also held a public hearing and extended the emergency moratorium for an additional 350 days to protect its limited housing. The temporary freeze only applies to properties that are multi-residential units and stops them from being converted into nonresidential. Frace specifically stated that the moratorium only prohibits the conversion or loss of residential units. Owners can add units or continue to modify existing structures as long as changes do not diminish the City’s housing supply.
The City is in the process of starting its housing element update. First produced in October of 2014, the housing element is a portion of the City’s general plan analyzing housing needs for all income groups. It also sets policies to target housing needs. It can be viewed on the City’s website at prcity.com/260/Housing-Element.
The update coincides with changes to the State of California housing mandates put in place to battle the drastic housing shortage the State faces. Laws and standards continue to be passed down by the State government on how to address the lack of residential units with emphasis on affordability. Frace said Paso’s housing responsibility set by California is 1,446 housing units in the next 10 years, which is triple the amount allocated by the City.
“Two-thirds of these units, which is 840 of those units, are going to have to be affordable units which is going to be very difficult for the City to meet,” Frace said. “Our concern is that while we’re in this process of trying to identify additional housing, we do not want to lose any of our existing housing stock.”