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Apply for a Noise Code Variance

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For activities that make more noise than the Noise Code allows, or if your construction project takes place outside permitted construction hours, then you will need a noise variance.

Most applications are reviewed within 10 business days.

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Portland is a growing, vibrant city that supports urban growth through construction projects and lively community celebrations. Sometimes events such as the Rose festival and building construction are expected to produce sound that is louder than our Noise Code allows. When this happens, the Noise Program may issue a noise variance to allow for a project or event to exceed the normally allowed sound levels. We do not issue variances for private parties at residences.  Events held by businesses and organizations, such as outdoor movie screenings, block parties with amplified live music etc., may require variances. Variances may be revoked, revised and/or enforcement actions may be taken, if an applicant violates the conditions required by the Noise Review Board or Noise Officer.

Applying for a Noise Variance

If you would like to request a specific event or activity that will generate noise outside the sound limits specified within the Noise Code, Title 18, of the Portland City Code, you may wish to apply for a noise variance.  If your request is incomplete, or if the request is likely to be denied, we work to let applicants know as soon as possible.

There are separate applications for construction activities and for all other activities or events. Please note that we cannot begin the formal review of the noise variance request until the application is complete and all required fees are paid.

Complete steps for either (1) applying for a noise variance for construction, or (2) applying for a noise variance for all other activities are detailed below.

You can find a complete list of noise variance fees below.

Noise Variance Fees

The noise variance fees have changed effective August 1, 2021. Please see a complete list of fees in tables below.


Review Fees: 10 or more business days prior to event

High Noise Impact Events$541.00
Construction-
   2 Days in Duration$294.00
   1 Week in Duration$751.00
   Additional Weeks$263.00
   Maximum of 12 Months$1,260.00
Noise Review Board Variances & Motor Vehicle Racing-
   First Year$3,885.00
   Additional Years$1,260.00
All Other Applications$116.00

Accelerated Review Fees: Less than 10 business days prior to date of event*

High Noise Impact Events$1,076.00
Construction-
   2 Days in Duration$310.00
   1 Week in Duration$1,050.00
   Additional Weeks$488.00
   Maximum of 12 Months$2,520.00
Noise Review Board Variances or  Motor Vehicle Racing-
   First Year$7,770.00
   Additional Years$2,520.00
All Other Applications$231.00

*Variance applications submitted less than 4 business days prior to the date of the noise variance event, shall be charged a review fee equal to one and a half times the accelerated review fees listed above.


Revisions After Initial Approval

Scope of Work Revision-
   All other applications$63.00
   High noise impact events$116.00
   Construction or Motor vehicle racing$252.00
   Noise Review Board variances$609.00
Date Change Only-
   All other applications$63.00
   High noise impact events$116.00
   Construction or motor vehicle racing$252.00
   Noise Review Board variances$609.00

Appeal Fee

Administrative Review Fee for Citation Appeal$25.00

County recording fee equal to cost of recording charges


Steps for Applying for a Noise Variance for Construction

  1. Complete the Construction Variance Form (above). Please specify on the application the exact times/dates of each event, the cause of the noise, and include a site plan which includes the surrounding neighborhood, within a 500 foot radius.  Normal permitted construction hours from 7 AM to 6 PM, Mondays through Saturdays. 
  2. Notify neighbors potentially impacted by the noise variance. The application won’t be considered complete without you having provided neighbor notification that a noise variance application is being submitted. At a minimum your notification must specify the activity dates/times, the cause of the noise and the contact information for who at the Construction team will handle concerns or complaints.  If your variance will be reviewed by the Noise Review Board you will be notified that an additional neighborhood notification with the date of the hearing will be required. The Noise Office will contact you if your variance will be heard by the Noise Review Board. Neighbors have an opportunity to comment about the requested variance by emailing the noise office and/or by attending the hearing.  If you have additional questions please contact the Noise Program for further details. 
  3. The Noise Program will review your application for completeness. Typically, it takes about 10 days for the Noise Officer and the Noise Review Board Chair to determine if additional information is needed, if your variance will require a Noise Review Board hearing, or if your application’s request is likely to be denied.
  4. Staff will provide you with a processing number (IVR #) and the fee due for your variance application. Please note, this is not the final approval, and fees must be paid prior to the technical review of your variance. Once you receive a notice of a complete application from our office, you will use the DevHub online portal to pay the fee and be provided instructions if necessary. The Noise Program will finalize your noise variance request once you have submitted a complete variance application and paid your fee
  5. The technical review of your Noise Variance is finalized with the issuance of the APPROVED Variance . Decisions are processed in the order of the date of events of ALL the variances received by the Noise Officer.  The Noise Officer can typically process more basic requests and provide a decision within two business weeks, prior to the event.  However, if your project scope requires a Noise Review Board Hearing, it may take as long as forty-five (45) business days. 

Steps for applying for a Noise Variance for All Other Activities and Events:

  1. Complete the Activities and Events Variance Form (above). Please specify on the application the exact times/dates of each event, the cause of the noise, and include a site plan which includes the surrounding neighborhood, within a 500 foot radius. Be specific about the source of the noise (i.e. amplified music, public announcements) provide a site plan indicating the source of the noise, and the surrounding environmental elements (trees, streets, structures) and the NAME of your event.  
  2. Notify neighbors potentially impacted by the noise variance event. The application won’t be considered complete without you having provided neighbor notification that a noise variance application is being submitted. At a minimum your notification must specify the activity dates/times, the cause of the noise and the contact information for who will handle concerns, i.e. turn down the volume, during the event.  If your variance will be reviewed by the Noise Review Board you will be notified that an additional neighborhood notification with the date of the hearing will be required. The Noise Office will contact you if your variance will be heard by the Noise Review Board. Neighbors have an opportunity to comment about the requested variance by emailing the noise office and/or by attending the hearing.  If you have additional questions please contact the Noise Program for further details. 
  3. The Noise Program will review your application for completeness. Typically, it takes about 10 days for the Noise Officer and the Noise Review Board Chair to determine if additional information is needed, if your variance will require a Noise Review Board hearing, or if your application’s request is likely to be denied.
  4. Staff will provide you with a processing number (IVR #) and the fee due for your variance application. Please note, this is not the final approval, and fees must be paid prior to the technical review of your variance. Once you receive a notice of a complete application from our office, you will use the DevHub online portal to pay the fee and be provided instructions if necessary. The Noise Program will finalize your noise variance request until you have submitted a complete variance application and paid your fee
  5. The technical review of your Noise Variance is finalized with the issuance of the APPROVED Variance . Decisions are processed in the order of the date of events of ALL the variances received by the Noise Officer.  The Noise Officer can typically process more basic requests and provide a decision within two business weeks, prior to the event.  However, if your project scope requires a Noise Review Board Hearing, it may take as long as forty-five (45) business days. 

Standards for Review

All applications will be reviewed considering the following measures:

  • The reason a variance is being requested
  • Length of time the noise will be occurring with specific times/dates
  • The number of people the noise will impact
  • Whether the public health, safety, or welfare is harmed
  • Whether the noise impact outweighs the benefit to the public

Review Process for Projects with a Potential Significant Impact

Applications for activities and construction projects that may impact many Portlanders over more than brief time period are reviewed by the Noise Review Board (a volunteer group with monthly meetings). Applications going before the Noise Review Board are decided within forty-five (45) business days of receiving the completed application.

It may be possible to shorten the two types of review processes if a faster review is needed. There is an additional fee for this, and the Noise Control Officer/Noise Review Board Chair would have to have enough time to look at the request to decide that the request is in the City’s interest. The Noise Program office needs at least 3 business days to review the application and request for a faster review. If a Noise Review Board variance is needed, the Chair of the Noise Review Board needs at least 7 business days for review.

Appeals

To appeal a noise variance decision to the City Council, the applicant or legal representative, or any person who has submitted oral or written testimony must take these steps:

  • Notice of the intent to appeal must be submitted in writing to the City Auditor’s Office within ten (10) days of the effective date of the decision.
  • The notice must identify the decision that is being appealed.
  • It must include the appellant’s name, address and signature, phone number, relationship to the permit decision action, and a clear reason(s) for the appeal.
  • When the auditor receives the appeal, they will schedule an appeal date on the calendar of the City Council.

Promote the Common Good: Civic Life is building stronger communities by supporting and empowering Portlanders. We think, act, and partner with our communities to better understand and take care of their diverse needs. We invite you to join us in this continuous, much needed work to make our communities safer and more welcoming for all.

Please email us any questions or concerns at Noise@portlandoregon.gov

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