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What is the acceptable level of noise in my area?
The Noise Program scientifically measures the level of noise in decibels based on the zone in which you live or work to determine if a source of noise violates the code. The table below shows the allowable decibel levels set by the zoning of where the noise is coming from (source zone), as it is heard and measured with a noise meter at a separate property where the noise is heard (receiver zone).
We have decibel meters that can be loaned out to help you determine if a violation might exist. Please note, our meters are only to help determine a baseline sound so a Noise Inspector can follow up, if needed and require a deposit of $60. This meter loaning program is currently on hold due to the pandemic.
**We cannot discuss sound readings taken with cell phones apps or multi-meters as their level of accuracy is not reliable.**
Permissible Sound Levels (7 a.m. to 10 p.m., otherwise subtract 5 dBA)
(where sound is coming from)
(where sound is received, measured at property line)
Noises Addressed by Noise Program
The Noise Program’s primary focus is to address and educate the public on the following types of noise disturbances within Portland city limits:
- Amplified sounds (speech, music, events, parades)
- Commercial and industrial operations
- Residential HVAC equipment
- Motor vehicles (in rare cases)
- Home equipment and powered tools
- Leaf blowers
- Construction and construction equipment
If you believe that there is a possible noise violation and wish to report it to our office, please only report the incident and location once. Duplicate reports will only slow down the process.
If you are submitting a complaint about construction work on a city street, please indicate if the work is being done by Portland Bureau of Transportation, Bureau of Environmental Services, or the Portland Water Bureau. If the construction work is being done by any of these City of Portland bureaus, please check their website first for detailed information about the project before contacting our office.
For a single event such as a neighbor’s loud party, we recommend you talk directly with your neighbors about the issue before contacting our office.
Once a case is opened, the complainant will receive an email from the Noise Office with the case number and next steps. If the warning letter does not resolve the issue after two weeks, the complainant should email the Noise Office directly with the recent dates and time frames of incident they reported. A follow-up email is far more helpful than continuously submitting an online complaint.
Due to very hot weather and dry conditions, Portland Fire & Rescue continues to enforce their ban on the use of ALL fireworks in Portland. While the ban remains in effect, Portland Fire & Rescue urges people not to call 911 to report fireworks—as we need to keep the phone line open for reporting active fires and serious issues. Please note that if fire is started by firework(s), the violator will be held accountable through the Fire Investigations process.
We recognize the safety concerns associated with fireworks, as they can also be a noise nuisance for people and pets. However, noises associated with fireworks are not enforced by the Noise Program as outlined in the Title 18 Noise Control Code. As outlined in the code, our office is unable to respond to fireworks-related and other single incident-related noise issues. Learn more about the noise disturbances that we are able to enforce by visiting www.portland.gov/civic/noise.
Noises Not Addressed by the Noise Program
The Noise Program does not have the authority to address the following types of noise disturbances:
- Animal noises from residences (i.e., barking dogs)- Please contact Multnomah County Animal Services at 503-988-7387.
- Chickens/roosters and urban wildlife- Please contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-1174.
- Aircraft-in-flight (i.e., planes and helicopters)- Please contact the Port of Portland at 503-460-4100.
- Train activity regulated by Federal Code- Please contact the Federal Railway Administration at 1-800-724-5998.
- Vehicle noise- Please contact the non-emergency police dispatch at 503-823-3333.
- Watercraft- Please contact the Harbor Master at 503-241-8283.
- Garbage/recycling noise- Please contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7202.
- Noise from human voices- Covered under Oregon and Federal Freedom of Speech rights unless voices are so loud as to be considered “disturbing the peace,” in which case, please contact the non-emergency police dispatch at 503-823-3333.
- Children at play- The City of Portland’s Noise Office does not regulate children and the various recreational equipment they use such as basketball nets or skateboard ramps.
- Daycare operations- We do not regulate daycare operations and the sounds from children at daycare facilities.
- Emergency warning devices- Devices used to alert the public of a potential danger such as back up alarms, first response vehicle sirens , garage vehicle exiting warning devices, and similar warning sounds.
What to do if you believe noise is violating The City of Portland’s Noise Code
For most neighbor-to-neighbor noise concerns, the very first place to begin is to reach out to your neighbor. Many times, issues can be resolved by working together. Check out these resources from Civic Life on how to have safe and constructive conversations:
- Contact Civic Life’s Community Safety Program at (503) 823-4064 to set up a free Neighbors Together training for you and your neighbors!
- Civic Life's Constructing Civic Dialogues provides no-cost training on communication and conflict resolution to the public. Learn more about upcoming trainings here.
The Noise Program has decibel meters that can be loaned out to help determine if a violation might exist (the loaner program is temporary suspended due to the pandemic). Our meters only help to determine a baseline sound so a noise inspector can follow up, if needed. We cannot discuss sound readings taken with cell phones apps or multi-meters as their level of accuracy is not reliable.
Submit a Noise Complaint
If your complaint falls within the Noise Program’s primary focus criteria (see above list), you can fill out an online complaint form. When the program receives a complaint, it will be reviewed to see if it qualifies as a Noise Code violation. If it does not, the case will be closed. If it does, the Noise Program will issue a warning letter to the source of the noise. If that does not resolve the issue, a noise control officer will make direct contact with the source of the noise to try and resolve it and may possibly issue a citation.
For more information, contact the Noise Program at 503-823-7350 or firstname.lastname@example.org regular business hours (8:00 am to 5:00 pm). If you are reporting noise currently in progress after 10:00 pm, please contact the Police non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.
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.