Neighbors & Noise
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Neighbors & Noise
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
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
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:
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:
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
Hope that is helpful and good luck!
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.
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
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
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:
email@example.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
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
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
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
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
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!
I hope all of this works out. It did for us.
start the phone calls
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
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
QuietRock -- to reduce sound transmission.
You reflooring your place and installing a ''floating floor'' over a sound
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:
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
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.
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!
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
guy run around. It's too stressful not to!
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
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
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.
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,
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!
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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
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
Mom of two boys
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
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.
How about mediation?
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
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
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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).
I read the responses to your post (and your original post).
I agree that you should make an effort to get to know your
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
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
this page was last updated: Feb 15, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network