Proposed Amendments to Noise Ordinance

The City of Virginia Beach is inviting the public to share their input on proposed amendments to the City’s noise ordinance which has incorporated resident feedback from the SpeakUp Virginia Beach Noise Ordinance Second Round (publicinput.com survey).  

The City Council is is seeking public input on the proposed changes to the City's noise ordiance. Residents can access the survey at SpeakUpVB.com.  The survey closes at 11:59 pm on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

Background
In 2009, the City Council adopted the current version of the noise ordinance after the Virginia Supreme Court declared the City’s previous noise ordinance unconstitutionally vague. The current noise ordinance system relies on sound pressure levels measured by noise meters. 

Proposed Changes

The proposed changes to the noise ordinance would streamline enforcement with reduced reliance on specialized sound meter equipment. The proposed ordinance would establish a hybrid penalty structure, imposing civil penalties for some violations while preserving criminal penalties for repeat or severe violations.  

A key change in the noise ordinance is the addition of a “plainly audible” standard, where certain sounds that are plainly audible inside an individual’s home or beyond a specified distance from its source would constitute violations.  Sound is plainly audible if it can be heard by the human ear with or without a medically approved hearing aid or device.  A violation of the plainly audible standard would result in a civil violation punishable by a fine of $250 for a first offense. Excessive noise as determined by decibel readings will continue to be violations under the proposed ordinance and may result in misdemeanor charges.  

The City Attorney explains details of the proposed changes in the video below.

Public Input

On June 28, 2022, Council Members Moss and Tower attended a community meeting in Building 19 to hear public comment on the proposed amendments.  Additionally, comments received in response to a previous survey were provided to City Council.  

On July 12, City Council deferred the item to October 18, 2022 to allow for additional community engagement.  Citizens and stakeholders were invited to provide comments and suggested textual changes via a SpeakUp Virginia Beach survey which closed on September 30.  Council Members John Moss and Guy Tower, along with City staff, have reviewed the edits and comments received and prepared a reconciled proposed ordinance, as well as a spreadsheet detailing the recommended changes, specific concerns and/or questions. 

Residents and other stakeholders are now invited to provide their comments on the reconciled document. Survey participants may provide feedback in one of two ways:

  • Visit SpeakUpVB.com and open the PDF versions of the proposed ordinance and spreadsheet and provide comments in the comment box.
  • For those who do not have access to a computer or are otherwise unable to complete the survey online, call Nancy Bloom at 757-385-6279 and request that paper copies be mailed to you and/or provide your comments.

The survey will remain open until midnight on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.   

Additionally, there will be two public listening sessions on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Princess Anne High School. City Attorney Mark Stiles will provide a presentation regarding the comments and requested changes received. Residents will have an opportunity to provide input on the reconciled proposed ordinance to Council Members Moss and Tower. Those meetings will take place:

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022
First Meeting: 3:30-5 p.m.
Second Meeting: 6:30-8 p.m.
Princess Anne High School Auditorium, 4400 Virginia Beach Blvd.

When the item was heard on October 18, City Council deferred it to December 6, 2022.  On December 6, the public will have an additional opportunity to speak to City Council prior to the vote on the item. 

Proposed Amendments to Noise Ordinance