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Neighbors & Noise

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Parenting, Families, & the Community > Neighbors & Noise


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Noisy Bar down the street what can I do?

May 2012

I've been in this house for 6 years and the bar down the street is getting more and more difficult to deal with. Live music almost every night of the week, so loud I can hear it in my house which is on the other side of Shattuck from this place and 3 houses down the block, with the windows closed. People smoking on the corner, usually about 10 at a time and they hang out there almost the entire evening having loud conversations, and the drunker they are the louder they get. Not to mention the poetry slam nights when there are at least 20 of them out there. I've spoken the owners, things get better for a week or so then we are back to the noisy usual. This is a residential neighborhood and it's almost impossible to find street parking after 8pm almost every night. I've seen other bars in Berkeley with signs outside to remind patrons to keep the noise down and respect the neighborhood, and I've also seen that most have a bouncer at the door minding the noise onto the street and the behavior of the patrons on the sidewalk. I've been trying to work with the owners, what are my options to pursue more formal complaints? I've tried the police, but it seems in South Berkeley noise is not high on the priority list and the dispatches have at times been outright rude. I have kept a log and talked with officers, who tell me to try working with the owners. That is no longer working. Can anyone advise me on what to do here? Moving is not an option. And I understand the need for a place for musicians to play, a place for poetry slams, I get it. I want some respect paid to the people who call this neighborhood home too. Sleepless and cranky


I hate to say this but the bar predates your moving into the neighborhood by many years. I think you have a couple of choices -- work on soundproofing your house with better windows, white noise machine, etc., or consider moving. I also live near to a use that is noisy at certain times of day, and try to be positive about the way that use makes the neighborhood better, and keeps people on the street. Shattuck Avenue is one of the central streets in South Berkeley, and if it is not this business it will be another one. I think you are fortunate that this one is more active and there are more eyes on the street because 10 or 15 years ago there were quite a few shootings in the blocks off Shattuck in South Berkeley. another Berkeley homeowner

Neighbor's noisy, souped-up car

Oct 2013

I live in a Berkeley neighborhood near the Cal campus. As such, I have to endure my share of typical urban and college-town noise. I get that. But recently a student moved in who drives a souped-up sport coupe of some indeterminate make that has the LOUDEST non-muffling exhaust system I've ever heard. Plus, this guy cannot parallel park. As you can imagine, the rumbling and revving and vibrating clamor is deafening and happens at all sorts of odd hours. My question is this: Is there anything I can do to get some authority (city of Berkeley? Police?) to ticket, fine, or otherwise coerce him into putting a proper muffler on that thing? I understand there are codes related to vehicle noise, but does anyone have advice on how, exactly, to report and follow up on a problem like this? Already sleep-deprived w/o this headache


Contact the DMV. We had a similar problem in our area and one neighbor was particularly irritated by it daily. He had the OPD come out and was told they couldn't do much. Next I think he turned to the DMV and reported the car as a gross polluter which prompted the DMV to invite the owner in for a special SMOG check. Soon the car had a proper exhaust system on it. Worth a try. Maybe you have seen the billboards to report smoking vehicles to the DMV? silence is golden
I don't have any advice for you, but BOY can I commiserate. We must live close to you; I have heard that car many times. Between that noise, the shows at the Greek Theater, and the drunk college students parking and yelling (and peeing) on our street for football games and music concerts, we have many sleepless nights around here. I'm hoping someone has suggestions for you on how to combat the constant disruption of that thoughtless driver...and possibly the many, MANY other disturbances in this area. Tired of non-stop noise
Some things for you to check out:

1. The City of Berkeley has a noise ordinance. See http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Health_Human_Services/Environmental_Health/Community_Noise_Program.aspx You can call in a report, or email them, or fill out a form online.

2. Do you live on the Southside? There is a ''Joint Southside Safety Patrol'' staffed by both the BPD and the UCPD that was formed ''to curtail violent crime and public nuisances.'' Here is an article about it: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/08/18/joint-campus-and-city-police-safety-patrol-resumes-tonight/

3. Email your city councilperson. Often (not always but often) they know how to guide issues like this through the bureaucracy - which person you should call to lodge a complaint, for example. Here's a list of city council members: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Roster.aspx

4. Neighborhood group. Does your neighborhood have a mailing list? Many neighborhoods in Berkeley do. You can get lots of useful info from people who run the group, attend a meeting and raise your issue, find nearby neighbors who agree with you, etc. Google or ask your neighbors - For example, here is a list of groups in District 8 I found by googling ''Berkeley neighborhood groups'': http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/d8neighborhoods/

Hope that is helpful and good luck! Ginger


Partying neighbors keep baby awake

Aug 2012

I'm at my wit's end with our neighbors. We moved into our home the same time they moved into their apartment next door. They like to play really bad techno music at all hours of the day and seem to have taken to hosting parties at night, sometimes weekday nights. The worst part is their bass, it rattles the walls and windows of our 100-year-old home. Our bedroom is approximately 2 feet from their living room window where their sound system sits. Sometimes when our baby sleeps and they're listening to their music, the baby monitor gets overloaded by the sound of their bass. We have fans blowing and white noise playing, but sometimes that is no match for their bass. Our neighbors are nice folks and we've been nice to them, calling or texting and politely asking them to turn the music down, but they will crank it up again the next day (or later in the same day) and we have to ask politely all over again. This works, but gets old fast. We've explained the baby situation but they just don't get it.

Last night was the final straw, over 12 straight hours of wall-shaking *really bad* techno, and drunk kids. It woke our baby really made my husband and I upset. We called and texted from 2am-5am, seems they just ignored their phones. We live in Oakland and don't imagine our reduced-police force will pay any mind to a 'disturbing the peace' or noise violation phone call. Any suggestions? I'm going to try and find out who the landlord is and make a formal complain with them. Talking to the neighbors directly doesn't seem to have made a difference. Would like to take the peaceful kind approach but I'm about ready to strangle someone. Victoria


This situation is awful. I don't have advice, but I really feel for you. We had it happen to us a few times, i.e. loud parties outside our apartment waking our baby up. We ended up finding out when the quiet time in our city began (I think it was 9 or 10pm) and called the police (the non-emergency number). We explained that we had a baby that could not sleep with the noise, and that the party was loud and seemed out of control so we were afraid to confront the neighbors directly (which we were since we did not know them well and there was a large party of drunk people there). The police actually came and quieted it down pretty quickly. So it might be worth a try. anonymous
My advice? Get mean...now... I'd say the ''peaceful approach'' isn't working. Texting and calling is not enough. Go over there in person, knock on their door, and tell them to turn their music down/off immediately. Heck bring the baby with you for dramatic effect. These people are not ''nice folks'' if they don't have the decency to turn down their music at 4AM with a sleeping baby next door. Stop being passive agressive and get angry! Pretend you're a confrontational east coaster instead of a passive west coaster and be upfront with them. They're clearly not concerned about your feelings so why should you be concerned with being nice to them? Definitely call the police, repeatedly if necessary, it can't hurt. I would definitely contact their landlord as well although I personally think that dealing with them directly is your best option. Sucks to have noise with a baby! Sorry and hope you get it solved. It's time to get mad
First: you and your family have a legal right to ''quiet enjoyment.''

Second: police will, most likely, do little to quiet noise unless the noise occurs after 10PM and before 7AM (California's and Berkeley's legally defined ''quiet hours'') unless you supply information that police and/or a district attorney can use.

By law, any person who makes sounds that pass beyond the property line of the noise source has no reasonable expectation of privacy. State courts (especially California courts ! ) and federal courts have consistently held that anyone may record any sound that passes into their space from another space and/or any person may record any noise made in a public space or passes into a public space.

You may record the noise to show the ''character'' of the noise (tone of voice, offensive words used, etc.) and you can get someone with a dosimeter (sound-level meter) to record the sound level (volume) of the noise when the noise gets to your property. Give that information to local police. (Ask that your name and address be withheld. Sometimes, people who feel it is their ''right'' to make a lot of noise also think it's their ''right'' to demonstrate their self-righteous anger in threatening ways when their noise brings scrutiny of authorities, so caution is advised.)

If you think it is possible these noisy tenants are UC Berkeley students, text an ANONYMOUS tip to: cal@tipnow.com or call 510.644.8477.

Note: photographs, similarly, can be taken of what you can easily see without ''peeking'' or using special equipment without violating reasonable expectation of privacy. Worked for us !


ABOUT A SOUND LEVEL METER (from an experienced expert who has provided technical information in federal courts and California courts):

The first thing you need to decide is whether the meter is to get approximate levels to use when talking to the city, or whether you need legally defensible measurements.

The first goal will be readily met by a Radio Shack meter, which is actually not a bad piece of equipment for $50. See

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12680845

If you need defensible (as in, with known error bounds and traceable to NIST standards) data, that will cost at least $600 (iPhone interface and mic) or over $1,000 for a purpose-built instrument.

I suspect that the Shack meter is OK for your use, if what you mostly want to do is convince the police that a real problem exists. If it turns out you need something better, you've invested only $50 to figure that out.

From a homeowner who is in favor of being able to sleep !


Yes, call the cops. That's their job, and they will have time to go over. We had neighbors who weren't half as bad as yours sound, and we called the cops constantly if the loud music went beyond 11 p.m. The cops always went, even in these reduced-budget times.

Many police departments have something called POP officers (problem oriented policing) whose job it is to deal with problems like these: non-violent but very annoying and breaking noise ordinances, etc. You can ask if your police dept has one. It's the non-emergency number for the police dept that is also staffed 24/7. They don't report who called, so don't be scared when they ask you for your name and number; sometimes they just want to call you later to report back or check back in. If you hear people shouting, you can say you are worried about it becoming violent (that happened to us once: partying neighbors started shouting at each other and the cops were there VERY fast!).

Also, if you know your other neighbors, let them know the phone number to call so that they can also call in the parties. And if you don't know them, then get to know them! Sometimes it's as easy as knocking on the front door. Don't forget the backyard neighbors to you and to the partiers as well. This will make it a higher priority for the police, and for the property manager/owner as well.

Also call the City and ask about talking to someone in code enforcement; there may be something that exists for ongoing noise, excessive partying, drunken people on the front lawn, etc. Isn't there something like ''disturbing the peace?''

If they are renting their apartment, find out who the property manager and/or owner is/are, and call them immediately. This is not appropriate behavior for anyone, but if they are tenants, and if police start making house calls, then the manager/owner will not be happy and will hopefully not let them renew their lease. If multiple neighbors start calling them, that also will make them unhappy and motivated to change.

Finally, if none of this works (and you should only give it a week or two for at least one visit to be paid), call or email your City Councilperson. I emailed mine with a general plea for assistance (what do we do?) and included his ENTIRE staff in the email. One of them forwarded it to the police sargeant, and I got a call from PD, the house got a visit, and I got a follow-up call from the PD AND the Councilperson's staffer being sure it had been remedied! Wow!

I hope all of this works out. It did for us. start the phone calls


Neighbors fed up with our noise - what to do?

Sept 2011

I own the middle floor in an old three unit edwardian, below a family with 2 kids and above a childless couple. I have a young son. Unfortunately, the woman below us HATES footfall noise. They have the right to ask us to put rugs and pads on 75% of the floor space. We have lovely hardwood floors, a dog with allergies, and I have allergies - when we first realized noise was a problem, we tried to work together to improve the situation without carpeting(we agreed that could be last resort)- no shoes inside, strict adherance to ''quiet hours'' meaning we don't use portions of the house above where they are relaxing or sleeping at certain times, I bought crocs that my son wears at all times indoors, per their request. I rarely invite friends over, and when I do I often coordinate with them. We spend lots of time outside at parks as opposed to playing at home. I do a lot of nagging to not jump, run ect (he's only 4). I have slowly, as money allows, started purchasing some rugs (we probably have 50% covered now, though not all spaces have pads under the rugs yet). Things have reached a point where they are calling repeatedly to complain (late afternoon/early evening is the worst, because I am trying to cook dinner while my son plays). The problem is exacerbated by their schedule - only one works, part time at that, so they are often home. At this point, my son simply walking across the kitchen is meriting a complaint some evenings. He's not stomping, just walking, but the noise carries in this old building. Has anyone had any experience dealing with this? My question is twofold - clearly I need to fulfill my legal obligation and cover 75% of the flat - for everyone's sake (I know they are miserable dealing with this too, and I want to do what is right, but also what is reasonable for ALL of us). Any recommendations on doing this sufficiently, attractively and affordably? I'll need to buy REALLY thick mats for under the rugs. Also, they want padding in the kitchen. Thoughts? A rug will get trashed in that space. Once I put adequate floor covering down, if the complaints continue, is there a protocol for determining a definition for excessive noise? It's such bad luck (for everyone) that what drives them crazy is footfall noise - but then, they chose to live on a bottom floor underneath friends with children. But I'm so tired of nagging my boy to have ''quiet feet'' all the time. In fact, as I'm typing this, my housemate just reprimanded my boy because he was running, not walking down the hallway to see me. tired of feeling stressed about noise


Would it make sense to talk to a soundproofing expert about your options? Perhaps insulation can be blown into the space between the floor and the ceiling to muffle noise. That might be cheaper than you think, though you'd want to talk to the neighbor about it first: split the cost if you can, and get a commitment that if you make that investment, they need to accept the result.

Other possibilities that an expert might point out include: them adding a layer of drywall to their ceiling -- ''resilient channel'' or possibly QuietRock -- to reduce sound transmission. You reflooring your place and installing a ''floating floor'' over a sound muffling underlayment - I think there is one called Floor Muffler or some such. glad I don't have your neighbors


I have been in a very similar situation to yours and understand how frustrating it can be. We used to live in a nice big apartment with carpeted floors, and in this case the elderly upstairs neighbor was highly irritated (up to calling the police) with my son's afternoon noise (Beatles Rock Band game with drums, for instance, at 3-4:30). He called repeatedly in the afternoon and at night if my son had a friend over for a sleepover. I had to shush my son constantly, afternoon and evening, for noise that was really pretty normal kid noise. Finally I decided that life in an apartment was untenable for us. You don't say whether you own or rent, but moving into a little house (which I rent) was a lifesaver. Now my son can be a normal kid without the constant threat of anger hanging over him. I think you have a couple of options. The first would be to finish covering your floors per your agreement, which is your obligation. Make sure that there are mats under the rugs and that 75% of the area is covered. Then invite your downstairs neighbor up, show them that the space is covered, and explain that any noise they hear is noise they will now have to tolerate. No more calling. If they call to complain about footfall noise when you have the proper covering, it's harassment, and you will treat it like that. ''Being nice'' should work in two directions. (The other part of my story is that I used to be married to a neurotic, very noise-sensitive man who complained endlessly about the neighbors and required me to call on his behalf. I am guessing that there is something like that in your neighbor's household.) The other option is to move into a situation where you won't be faced with this. no more complaining neighbors
Can you pick up some inexpensive rugs at Ikea just to meet the 75 per cent covered area? I would do this immediately. And then for the kitchen, maybe something like this: http://www.americanfloormats.com/kitchen-mats/ ?

After you do that, and they decide to stay, then that is their choice. There is only so much you can do, it sounds like you are a conscientious neighbor and are trying to make it work. But then there is a certain point where what they are doing is noise pollution!

Is it possible for them to move? Could they come and see that what your son is doing is perfectly normal?

Could they put something on their ceiling to mitigate the noise? that's rough!


They may have the ''right'' to tell you you're being too loud and need to put down carpeting, but they don't have the right to constantly harass you or make you feel anxiety about your living space. People need to recognize that living in a communal house is not like living in your own single house; there will be noise. If they were living above you, there would be noise. It's upsetting to me that people can have so little compassion...A four year old child is completely allowed to walk/run around his house without worrying about making noise! If they are going to ask you to make changes, they should make some changes too like buying a white noise machine, or air purifier (which makes a similar white noise). This would block out much of the noise and is what I do in my own apartment to keep the living noises of others a little quieter when I'm sleeping. Also, do they own their unit? If they're renting, maybe they should consider moving. I think you have every right to sit down with them and explain that you will do everything you can to keep the noise to a minimum, but that they should take some steps also (such as purchasing a fan or white noise machine) and to kindly ask them to please stop calling every time they hear a noise. Sharing an old house takes some cooperation, understanding, and an acknowledgment that when you live below someone, you're going to hear every footstep they take. That's just how it goes. Good Luck
I have been the person downstairs, very irritated by footfalls, and I moved. I realized that it was my problem, not my upstairs neighbors, they were just living their normal lives. Since then I have always lived upstairs or in side to side duplexes, or houses, because I know I have this super sensitivity to noise above me. There is no way in the world you should have to tiptoe around (and expect your poor kid to!) all the time. My advice: do what you can in terms of rugs, then just tell them to deal. Turn off your phone or screen your calls and simply don't respond to complaints. Really, there's nothing wrong with you, it's them! Anon
Wow, what horrible neighbors. How stressful for you. I can't believe they seriously expect you to carpet your kitchen. It seems like you've given a lot (going out, limiting the amount of time you spend there, not inviting over friends) and they, well, they sit there and complain that people live above them.

I think I would stop trying to accomodate them quite so much. Sure, put in the carpet and padding (my sister got a good deal at Home Depot recently though she said that getting them to install it was a pain), maybe buy some fairly inexpensive, thin nicer rugs to put on top, and pretend you don't have hard wood floors for awhile. And then when they start with their endlessly barage of complaints, tell them you've done what you can and maybe they should start looking into what they can do on their end. Ceiling tiles? Extra insulation? There has to be something they can do. This can't all be on you. Sorry you have bad neighbors


Sorry you feel under constant scrutiny. These Bay Area houses are unforgiving. I had a few ideas: offer to install a ''water feature'' or white noise resource to camouflage your peaceful living noises; Their focus on you is unhealthy for everyone - try to ignore them; try using those professional rubber kitchen floor mats (might be found online) or the kind used at playgrounds, in place of rugs to cut down on allergens. My upstairs neighbors raised a boy who ran laps around their apartment each night before bedtime. I thought is was wonderful to hear! I say let the little guy run around. It's too stressful not to! Good luck
My first question would be, ''Are you renting?'' Because if so, then the best solution would be for one of you to find another living arrangement - and in my opinion that burden falls on your neighbors. Honestly, your neighbors seem to be letting this get to them MUCH more than is reasonable considering the living situation. You've tried to be neighborly and (from what you're telling us) have been extremely courteous and understanding in your efforts to curb the footfall noise. And they're still unhappy. At some point it becomes their problem, not yours. Especially if they're requesting you carpet every square inch of your unit to appease them.

If it's a renting situation, I would suggest that they find another unit elsewhere...on the top floor. There is only so much ''privacy'' one can expect in those older, multi-unit buildings. I've been in both situations in the past, and have found that I'm only truly happy with no one above me - no matter how courteous my upstairs neighbors are. Unless you, your housemate, and your child can learn to fly...I am guessing that your neighbors are never going to be happy. I feel bad for both of you. And if it's a situation where you both own your units, I feel especially bad because there's really no reasonable solution to make everyone happy. UPstairs-only


Hi- I don't have any advice for you but I just wanted to give you some support because that sounds like a really difficult situation. I got angry at your neighbors and felt protective of your kid just reading it! You must feel like you are always on guard in your own home. And I feel so bad for your son who is just doing what normal children do. It sounds like your neighbors are being lame and unreasonable and need to relax. anon
Hi neighbor,

So sorry to hear of the moise problems resulting from inherent sounds problems with your building. You clearly are trying to be a reasonable neighbor. I've had several very noisy neighbors upstairs, but even when they are quiet, our building's structure carries noise unnecessarily. The following is what I'm going to do.

I will be removing my ceiling, having foam insulation sprayed in (helps deaden voices), having RC channel sound proofing installed (helps with things dropping or heels clacking), and then finishing with installation of QuietRock (drywall that has superior sound barriers).

You could suggest that your neighbors replace their ceiling with QuietRock and the other insulations above it, and perhaps offer to help with the cost. Maybe even a 10% contribution from you would be appreciated. Chances are, that 10% could cost less than one or more rugs that you buy for your place. Or figure out the cost of rugs you have to buy and offer that to the neighbors?

My suggestion is definitely more than you need to do legally, but you sound like a caring neighbor who wants to be able to enjoy your home in peace, so it may be worth it. Take great care, JC


I think you have gotten great advice from people on both sides of the issue. I would suggest fulfilling your side of the bargain (ie putting carpet down) and then meet with your neighbors. You should print out all of the great advice you got on this forum so that your neighbors can see that their expectations of a noise-free building isn't realistic. Several of the responses were from people who were also noise sensitive and took responsibility for their situations by moving...none of them expect a 4 year old kid to be quiet. Good luck! anon
When I was pregnant with my first child we had an irate downstairs neighbor in our apartment building. My friends with kids would come over and the neighbor would call the landlord to complain about our ''wild parties''. They would also bang on their ceiling when we were doing such things as mopping the floor or using a foot pump to blow up a yoga ball. I finally got fed up and notified them in writing that what they were doing was harassment and I would be contacting the landlord AND the police if they continued. I also sent a copy of the letter to the landlord. They never banged or complained ever again. Give it a try. Jennifer

Locating a chirping sound in the neighborhood

Aug 2011

We have recently noticed a chirping sound in our neighborhood that has been driving our dog crazy. It is so bothersome for the dog that he paces around, claws at doors, jumps over baby gates, and will not settle down. He literally broke out if his crate that we reintroduced as a possible solution.

It's been 3 weeks and we're worried that if we can't figure out what is causing it we may have to get rid of our dog because we can't get sleep. It is definitely the sound that causes the anxiety.

The high pitched chirping sounds mechanical. It starts at night, around 10, but not at a set time. It goes off regularly in 38 second intervals, sometimes skipping an interval.

Any pointers on what might cause this type of sound would be greatly appreciated so we can talk to neighbors and figure out what causes it. We're hoping we might be able to offer to replace the device with a replacement that doesn't drive our dog bonkers. Hoping there's a solution


No idea if this is close to what it is, but I was bothered by a regular chirping sound at work for weeks until someone said it was the security camera tape battery needing changing. The noise was loud -- came from three rooms and a corridor away. Is there a store near you or a home or garage that might have a camera or alarm needing a battery? Chirped too
Do you think it is one of those sonic devices that is supposed to keep critters away? Sounds so hard for your dog, hope you figure it out. Good luck! anon
Are you only at home in the evening and hence notice the sound then? Or maybe in and out during the day? I suspect it's probably chirping during the day as well but just not as noticeable... anyway, I had a similar experience with said chirping noise. It was driving me nuts- similar interval time wise and I could NOT find it anywhere. Augh- I can almost hear it now typing this! I could hear it in the house and outside. Finally I was in the garage and it turned out to be the battery was dying a slow, annoying death in an old carbon monoxide detector from previous home. Removed battery, chirping gone. I've found usually the source of this obnoxious sound (this was pre-dog but I bet it would drive mine nuts as well) is a dying smoke alarm or in my case the CM detector.

Good luck! Hope you find it. Chirp Holmes


Does your smoke alarm need the batteries replaced? That may be the problem.
If you live near an intersection of a somewhat busy street with a crossing signal, that may be the source of your chirping. The newer street crossing signals now include a mechanical ''chirping'' to aid sight impaired persons know when to cross. The sound often isn't noticeable until evening when background noise lessens. We live a block from such a device and I find it very irritating but am told the city will not change or lessen the sound so we must just live with it.

Another possibility of course is somebody's smoke or CO2 detector in a nearby building ... that you should be able to locate just by walking around and listening. Good luck


fascinating. i really like your detail: every 38 seconds. can you take the dog for a walk when that chirping is happening and find the source? curious CIL
We noticed a similar chirping sound in our back yard. It turned out to be coming from a squirrel-repelling soundmaking device in an unoccupied neighboring house. Once we found the source of the noise, we politely asked them to turn it down and they did. Good luck! Less chirping, please
Could the chirping sound be coming from a smoke detector? Some give a little chirp warning to indicate that the battery is low. Our dog reacts in the exact same way to these, especially in our home but also outdoors. veli
Sounds like it could be a smoke detector with a dead/dying battery. Is there a vacant house near you? Those things are really lound and annoying. Have you tried wandering around the neighborhood while the chirping is happening to try to find it? Good luck
The chirping sound is likely a low-battery indicator for a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector. They make a terrible high-pitched sound which is aggravating for dogs - my dogs do the same thing in my house when they chirp! Anon
My mom has a device that chirps in her backyard to get rid of gophers. It drives me batty! I feel bad for your dog. The only solution I see is to find out which neighbor has the device and kindly explain how your poor dog is suffering. Poor Doggy
In our experience such a sound has come from a smoke detector in a crawl space that was losing battery power. It was sitting discarded on a shelf in a dark corner! (There was a ''Modern Family'' episode about a similar situation. Made us roll). BUT in your case it sounds distressful. So it COULD be a smoke detector in your own house or in a neighbors house. Do you have a neighbor who is hard of hearing and who opens their windows at 10 pm at night? perhaps it is from their home. The challenge is that such sounds can be extremely challenging to locate. Cup your hands over your ears so you hear sound from in front of you, to try to locate the direction. Think about what else happens around 10 pm in your home or neighborhood that would trigger it. Could it be related to something a baby monitor is picking up? Or a house alarm. OR something that runs out of solar power around then? One time we even had a summer camp science project that started to beep - that was super hard to figure out! Now all wired science projects are required to have batteries removed in our house! Good Luck!
The sound you describe does sound like some kind of alarm (smoke, or carbon monoxide) that needs a new battery. Those kinds of alarms chirp when the battery is low, and eventually, the chirping will stop because the battery will run out. It could even be buried in someone's garage, in a box somewhere, and even the owner can't get to it. I would recommend making a place in your house where you dog can go to get away from the sound. Can you soundproof a bathroom, for example? Or some little room, where you could put a comfortable bed, and keep the light on? He could go there for relief of the sound, until the battery runs out.

Perhaps you could also post a polite sign in your neighborhood asking that the chirping be located, because the owner of the chirping device may have no idea that it's driving your dog crazy. As a dog lover, I would try to accomodate my neighbor's dog. Has dog ears too


2 other suggestions for the source of the chirping sound:
- squirrels chattering; in our backyard, I thought the chirping noise was the bluejays or robins, but hubby said it's the squirrels
- anti bug device; my MIL has a device plugged into an electrical outlet that ''chirps'' and is supposed to keep spiders away
Mom of two boys

NOISY neighbours driving me crazy!!

Oct 2010

HELP! My neighbors are driving me mad, and moving is not an option. They live extremely close to us, and we don't have a great relationship. This is mostly because in the past, the mom has tried to take advantage of me by leaving her kid in my care without asking if that's ok, so that she can have a rest from him - completely inappropriate as I don't even have a kid, but I work from home and she would just call over and drop him off, telling him to 'come home whenever you're ready!' The kid has some behavioral problems, and the parents fight constantly. We hear them screaming at each other and having the most vicious arguments. We also hear them screaming at the kids and the young one in particular seems to be constantly the target of his father's rages. The younger kid wakes us up almost every day as he seems to have loads of energy in the mornings and goes running round the garden (under my bedroom window!) screaming every morning and letting off steam in the noisiest fashion. We have tried speaking to them (fail) and now we have also left them a note - mostly because I didn't want to speak to them again because they (esp the dad) scare me but also because I wanted a paper trail that proves we really have addressed this with them. Nothing has changed. We can't move out. What should we do? Calling the police seems rather extreme, though we have thought several times about calling them in the context of some of the parents' more noisy fights. Such a tricky situation. Any and all feedback very much appreciated. exhausted neighbor


PLEASE call the police if she ever leaves the child with you again. That is child abandonment. There needs to be a paper trail. In addition, call the police whenever they have these noisy horrible fights. I've done it and it works. been there
How about mediation? http://www.seedscrc.org/individuals-mediation.php **
In response to the recommendation for SEEDS mediation, I would NOT recommend them. My husband and I were threatened via email by his verbally violent brother-in-law (who also uses and grows marijuana as a business because he claims he has never been able to get a conventional job). My husband's sister recommended that we use SEEDS as a mediator to resolve family tension. I was reluctant and after I showed the SEEDS administrators the threatening email, they assured me that if my sister-in-law's husband became verbally violent, they would IMMEDIATELY stop the mediation. The first mediation, the husband interrupted and was told to be quiet and then was escorted out -- and we expected mediation would stop, but they brought him back in! The second mediation, the husband got mad at his wife and started yelling and then walked out and the mediator went after him and brought him back! Mediation should have ceased and he should have been told that because of his actions, it stopped. The mediators coddled this verbally violent substance abuser. My complaint to them was that they should have stuck to their policy and stopped mediation, but they were trying to hurry up and get us agree to something in three mediation sessions. They charge a nominal fee ($50) if you can pay, otherwise, you don't have to pay for the services. It is clear that you get what you pay for. If your problem is serious and you want to go the mediation route, pay the money to get someone who is trained. In my case, I should have insisted that we get a mediator trained to handle substance abusers with anger management problems. Don't use SEEDS

Neighbor Calling Sheriff About Baby crying

Dec 2009

The sheriff showed up at my door the other night saying that a neighbor called with a report that someone at our house had left a baby crying for half an hour. I reassured the sheriff that there was no problem, he could clearly see my son in my arms and see that we were reading stories together with my daughter. He still took my name and birthdate, though. Now, I'm really worried that this might happen again, but I have no idea who called the sheriff. Our son is an incredibly loud screamer, has been loud since birth--like hurt your ears loud!--so it doesn't surprise me that someone could hear him. In addition he's going through that phase where 14 month olds scream for such meaningless things like wanting a spoon, or being put down for bed when he doesn't want to be (this has been happening since we returned from visiting family but isn't customary). So, there's just been more screaming lately. The neighbor probably heard him scream when I left him in his crib to help my daughter.

Now, my husband and I are scared that this mystery neighbor will call again and eventually the sheriff will report us to CPS. As my husband is a therapist who works with families, it wouldn't be good for his record, nor mine as a teacher. What should we do? The windows were closed, he screamed for no more than 10 minutes (30 was an exaggeration), so we're at a loss. But knowing that we have a loud child on our hands, we're afraid that this could happen again. We're new in the area, so aside from knocking on various doors and asking who called the sheriff the other night, I have no way of knowing who it was, so we feel the best approach is to work on our son's screaming. But now we have so much anxiety around his screaming that I'm afraid it's going to make matters worse. Anyone ever dealt with this? Do other people think it was a little over the top for someone to call the sheriff?


I'm so sorry you have to deal with such a strange and uncomfortable situation. ''Over the top'' is definitely accurate, and if it were me I would be downright angry. You cannot live in fear of someone calling the sheriff because your child is crying. That's unliveable, as KIDS CRY, ALOT. I suggest you visit all your immediate neighbors and introduce yourself and kids, mention that the sheriff visited you, and that you're interested in having a conversation with whomever is so worried about your children's welfare (!!!). I would guess it's someone who doesn't have kids, or has amnesia about their own child-rearing experiences. We personally had to change a living situation where we were living upstairs from someone who hated our kids noise/crying, because we were so anxious about every little sound they made. It was awful. Trust me, it's an awful and constant anxiety. Local
My heart goes out to you, what a terrible situation. Could you write a letter and distribute it to your neighbors? Though you don't know who called, perhaps writing a letter stating that you appreciate the concern for your baby (maybe lay it on thick, like ''our kids are lucky to have neighbors so concerned about their welfare'') and then explaining your situation and gently asking for patience and understanding would help. Include your phone number/email address in the letter, and tell them that they can contact you directly if they are being disturbed, but that contacting the police is not necessary. I bet that the complainer is a non-parent and doesn't realize that the call has serious consequences, and hearing from you how it affects your family life may make a difference. Also, for the neighbors that DIDN'T call the police, it will probably make them sympathetic to your situation and provide some support. Oh, and it couldn't hurt to keep a copy of that letter to show to any authorities should the need arise. Good luck! devil's advocate
We had a police show up at our door one night around 10:30pm because our 3 year old was having a tantrum. What bother me the most was that the neighbor did not come to our house to ask us first instead they called the police. Do they really care about the welfare of the child or just annoyed by the noise.
I would be livid if this happened to me. Think of all the babies that cry it out when they sleep train - what if all of their neighbors called the police? If it were me I would want to know which neighbor it is. maybe next time he screams one of you can go outside to figure out which houses are even within hearing distance. then either knock on their doors or write a polite note. Explain that children crying (even for extended times)is normal and that you are sorry that it bothered them. Tell them how terrible an experience it was for you for the cops to come to your door when all you were doing was tending to your other child. I think that way that you send a message that that will make them less likely to do it in future. You could also call the police just to chat with them about the situation and how to handle it in future. anyone who has ever had a kid knows that 10 mins crying does not mean the child is being abused -and the police will probably also realize this too - particularly if you call them preemptively about it. good luck!
I think it might be worth following up with the officer who came, and asking him/her if they contacted the neighbors after they came to you.

This is not a one-way street. The right officer will have the sense to treat this as serious as it is, and talk with the people who reported this and get a sense of their intentions. The authorities have an obligation to knock some sense into whoever might be acting like a yahoo, or to gently advise them (if they were indeed genuine) to reconsider their approach, and to contact you first, before calling the authorities.

I think it is appropriate to have the expectation that the officer will follow up with the complainants. They will not tell you who it is, but if you document your interactions, and you also tell them of your anxiety over this, and/or ask them what they would advise you to do the next time your child cries, they'll know you are very upset, and in a corner. Ask them what happens in cases of false or malicious reports -- surely they must have happened before. Ask them if they would advise you to knock on the doors of all your neighbors, drop a note, or anything else they may suggest. If you don't get anywhere, ask to speak to a higher up. Contact your city council-member, and/or your county supervisor's office.

Do not despair. This will probably not happen again. But, for good measure, get the police involved. Don't be afraid of them -- you've done nothing wrong. If your neighbor is playing pranks and they realize this, believe me, the sky will fall on his/her head from very high up. A lot of growing up will happen for them in a very short period of time. Nel


Pretty much everyone who posted was very judgmental of the neighbors, but as someone who works with kids in foster care, I think it is great that they called. Remember that the parent who posted said that the baby has a really loud piercing scream/cry, which could easily be mistaken for the sounds of a baby in real distress. And if you as a neighbor hear that, you might not be comfortable going to the door where the screams are coming from. From reading the histories of kids in foster care, I am constantly asking myself, why didn't someone intervene? And while the experience was scary for the parents, it takes a LOT for kids to be taken away from their parents. So I like the idea of the poster who suggested writing a letter to all the neighbors, but I wouldn't talk about the sheriff visit. Just make it like a friendly we're new to the neighborhood letter and describe your family. Include that your know your baby's cry is very loud and you hope that you don't disturb the neighbors. Give them your contact info and ask them to call you to say hi or if there are any problems. advocate for children
I can so understand the outrage and concern that parents feel about some one calling the sheriff unnecessarily, but I also want to put in a plug for the neighbor who called. I would encourage you not to assume that the neighbor was merely annoyed by the noise. Try to see it from another persons perspective. 10 minutes of crying, unless you're actually watching the clock, can seem a lot longer. Imagine that you don't have kids yourself (or maybe you do, and you feel anxious for your own and others' children), you've followed all those horrible stories about kids getting left in cars by their parents and whatnot. You wonder, could something be wrong? Is the child you hear crying so piteously in danger of some kind? Should I do something, or ignore it? But, I would hate myself if it turned out their was a problem, and I did nothing. Well, if I call the police, and there's a problem, then the police will help, if there's nothing wrong, then no harm done (so the person thinks, not realizing that it could actually have the result that it has, scaring you and putting you at risk for intervention by CPS). Someone who has never had the sheriff called on them about their kids will not realize what a big deal it can be. They were probably just wanting to be sure they did SOMEthing, in case there really was a kid in trouble. I think the person who suggested writing a note had the right idea. That way, no one is put on the spot, and you can give a concerned neighbor a reassurance and maybe even a way to contact you if they *are* disturbed (as well as a very important understanding of the consequences to you of having the sheriff called). Anon
I read the responses to your post (and your original post). I agree that you should make an effort to get to know your neighbors.

On the flip side, I am okay that someone called the sheriff rather than coming to you first. If you are beating the crap out of your kids, are you going to tell a concerned neighbor the truth or are you going to say that you are 'sleep training?' It may be that the caller was someone without kids or just the neighborhood nudge. Or, it may be another parent who was genuinely concerned about the level of noise coming from your apartment and from what issue it stems. My two kids have very different volume levels. I am used to the louder child, but another parent may be genuinely freaked out by it.

Just a thought... -not everyone is out to get you


Noise from a neighbor's band practice

Jan 2009

I am wondering whether it is appropriate for me to say something to our neighbor about the noise from his band. One of our neighbors is in a band and the band practices at our neighbor's house. They practice in a above-ground basement and due to the location of our respective houses/the lack of sound-proofing in the basement/the volume of the amplifiers, we can hear the music in nearly every room of our house, including all of the bedrooms, even if the windows are closed. The music is not loud enough to halt ordinary conversation in our house, but it is loud enough that I must turn on the TV or stereo in order to drown out the sound. My question is, is it appropriate for me to ask them to do something about the noise? I understand that living in an urban area, we must expect a certain amount of noise. So I accept that I will hear my neighbors talking in their yards, children playing, lawnmowers and the like. The difference in my mind is that the noise from the band is filtering into our house and I cannot ignore the noise like I can from those other sources. In general, the practices seem to go on for at least 2-3 hours and happen roughly 2-3 times a week. During the week, the practices are in the evenings, and on the weekends they are usually during the afternoons. I do not want to be unreasonable about the noise, and I realize that renting out studios is expensive. That being said, I am frustrated that on an otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon, I cannot take a nap without hearing the beat of the bass from next door.

I would appreciate hearing others' views. In particular, I am interested in responses from those who have had neighbors with loud music and those who have bands that practice at home. Should I just buy earplugs?


Hi: I am in a band and we have on occasion practiced in our detached garage in the backyard. We have always checked with the neighbors beforehand, and after the fact, to see if it bothered them. The neighbors have all responded positively, but if any one of them had complained we would have ceased our playing. -respectful musician
Oh, can I speak to this one. I don't have the band, I have the dogs. To me, excessive noise is all the same. Yes dogs bark, bands rehearse, but when their right to play (bark), clashes with your right to quiet/peace of mind/ serenity, then they need to change things(and yes, I have a dog, and no, it's not okay to leave a barking dog outside all day long while you are at work) It's your world too, 3 times a week is too much. Most people work all week and appreciate their weekends to chill out and relax, I would either speak with them, or write a note, and if that doesn't work call city hall and ask about the local noise abatement code. I also understand that most people desire to be on good terms with their neighbors, but I feel if an issue is not addressed, it will turn into resentment, and you STILL won't have any peace. I hear you
Hi. I've encountered your problem too that we ended up having to go to small claims court as our last resort (and won a judgment in our favor). People are entitled ''peace and quiet,'' so I suggest you get yourself a copy of ''Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries, and Noise'' by Cora Jordan to give you different suggestions as to how to deal with your neighbors in an amicable fashion...as going to court is the VERY LAST RESORT!! Good luck! Also, don't expect to be popular for speaking up but you are entitled a nap in your own house without ''band'' interruption but don't expect to be popular if they don't like your request. If you can live with that, fine. If you can't, then put up with it as I'm not popular with my neighbors but I can hear my own voice now and there is nothing like peace and quiet on a Sunday afternoon...it's priceless!! anon

Bothered by neighbor's noisy car

Feb 2007

My neighbor's tenant (I think my neighbor rented her basement illegally to him) has a very old truck. Every morning before he leaves for work, he would start the engine and warm up the car for 15-20 minutes. The sound is so loud that it wakes up everyone in my family. Our dual-panel windows just don't help. Every morning my two kids 4 and 7 wake up 40 minutes before schedule and stay in bed awake. They go to bed at 9:00pm and I don't want them go any earlier. The noise really disturbs our life. I tried to talk to the neighbor and I also called police. Neither worked. Police don't think there is any violation. What should I do? I'm really frustrated because the noise is so loud we can't just ignore it. Any suggestion will be appreciated. sue


Cal your city clerk and see if they can refer you to a City- sponosred neighborhood mediator. Also, you city's police department or rental regulating department may know how to contact a neighborhood mediator. Mom
It may be difficult if this neighbor is hostile toward you, but maybe you could go about it from an air quality standpoint. There are links on the DMV website to air quality agencies as well as a program in which state pays $650 for cars made before 1986, in an effort to get them off the road. Maybe this is all he incentive your neighbor needs. Good luck. Mara
If you live in Berkeley or Oakland, you can find those cities' noise ordinances on their websites. Other cities may have this too. read them. If it's loud enough to wake you up when you're indoors with the windows shut, it is likely exceeding lawful noise levels. Your next step is to contact a city official to file a complaint. I had good results complaining about my neighbor's gas-powered leaf blower, which is not only very noisy but also illegal in Berkeley. The city even has a form on the website you can fill out to make a complaint. I had asked my neighbor several times to not use it but never had any success - every other Tuesday from 8am - 10am I got the noise of a revving motorcycle right outside the window where I work. After I submitted the complaint online, something happened - maybe a phone call or a letter from the city? The next week she had switched to an electric leaf blower (still noisy but lots quieter!) So there is hope. Quieter now
Have you tried a white noise maker? It just might provide enough background noise so that the extra noise from the loud car won't wake your family. We live right behind a bar with lots of noise from talking, trucks, loud music, etc. After a bit of online research, I bought the Marpac Sleepate 980 and it's been absolutely wonderful. I don't know for sure that it would drown out your idling truck noises, but it might and seems worth the try. Good luck! Sarah

Neighbor's monthly 3AM drumming & screaming ritual

Nov 2005

5 years living next to this lady, she lives alone, late 50s. About once a month, until midnight or later, we hear loud screaming, drums, wailing..some pagan, shamanistic ritual..pretty sure she's on a good high in there..

Problem; asked her nicely 5 years ago and ongoing, to finish by 10pm, no change since. We are a family, one high stress teacher job to get up early for, one Phd in progress who needs sleep, and one 2 year old who already wakes us up once a night @ 3am. Not judging her practice, its her deal, but its rude, insensitive and selfish in my mind.

I want to call the police next time (risk of illegal substance fine for her?). Wife feels we should just accept it, live and let live and all that. Talking to her didn't help, writing a polite note raised her ire. She is normally a decent neighbor, not a bad person. Just goes off her head once a month. It drives me mad. We live in an East Bay urban environment, with homes close to each other.

Advice? Leave it be, and take it on the chin? Or push the principle of 'do unto others' and make her realise she has to stop? Would be very interested in your opinions. anonymous


If that person lived next door and woke me up at 3am, I would call the police at once, and every time. It is completely unacceptable to make noise at that hour, and no doubt against city ordinances as well. Don't feel guilty! anon
Maybe it's just me, but I would have no problem calling the police about this. You could talk to her one more time, or see if any other neighbors are bothered, but after that, go for it. Call the non-emergency number, of course! like to sleep at night
You didn't say which city you live in, but most cities have a noise ordinance which specifically forbids this kind of noise after 9 or 10 at night, and it's always against the law if it lasts for more than a minute or so, no matter what time, if you live in a residential zone. I know that Berkeley and Oakland both have their noise ordinances online - other cities probably do too. People are entitled to peace in their own homes. Call the police every time it happens. And keep a log too. Nobody should have to put up with that! Ginger
You know, I would really suggest that you try try try to let it go, and even better, accept it with some grace. It's only once a month, and so many people have to live and struggle with daily and nightly noise from neighbors (parties, kids, animals, musical instruments, and such), the street, etc. We all live packed together in this urban environment and as hard as it is for some of us, up to a certain point it's just wiser to work on ourselves rather than fight other people. You say she's generally decent. Can you ask her to let you know a few days ahead of each gathering so that you can prepare yourself psychologically? Do extra sessions of your regular stress reduction exercises? And, I think that it might be helpful to your acceptance of other people's noise to realize that your 2 year old's noise, or other noise of your own life, might be bothering some of your neighbor's (maybe even this one) and that they are not making a fuss about it, that you are the recipient of their understanding and grace. At his level of inconvenience, I say go with your wife- live and let live. anon
Not being able to sleep through the night is truly exhausting and I sympathize with how difficult this must be. However, if this happens only once a month, I hope you can find a way to accept it. Not everybody in the world has it together, and your neighbor clearly doesn't (at least once a month). She is being inconsiderate, but this may be her only way of coping with the world, and one good thing is that it is relatively infrequent. I hope you can find some compassion for her and maybe even some humor. To reduce stress for yourself, try to acknowledge that she's nuts, life is nuts, and then put in your earplugs. Instead of trying to get to sleep, you may want to do your own ''crazy'' activity (presumably, quieter than hers) and just accept that life isn't always what you expect it to be. Nancy
You don't say in your posting what the actual problem is for you from your neighbor's behaviour--does it actually keep you and your family awake? I've noticed that sometimes in these situations, the bigger disruption from someone else's inconsiderate behaviour is the effect that my anger and indignation has on me, rather than the behaviour itself. Given that this is only once a month, and your wife doesn't want to take on a fight, maybe you could first try to figure out how you can accept and live with this--maybe just wear earplugs on those nights? If you can let go of the anger, you might find that it's possible to sleep through the noise.

If that doesn't work, I would let her know that 1) her behaviour is not OK with you, and 2) what you want her to do about it (stop at 10) and 3) if she's not willing to do that, then you will call the police the next time it happens. Or alternatively, you could suggest engaging in a mediation process- -there are free mediation services available. You could also talk to other neighbors to see if they are also bothered--if so they could deliver the same message. anon


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