information
COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience

Access City programs, people and projects designed to help Portland recover. Portland United
Volunteer. Play. Stay. Shop. Show the Rose City a little love. Be Here for Portland.

Apply for a Noise Code Variance

Service
For activities that make more noise than our 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.

On this Page

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, only for events held by businesses and organizations. Variances may be revoked or altered if the applicant violates the terms.

COVID UPDATE: If you have submitted a time-sensitive variance application and need to cancel due to the current state-of-emergency, please let us know. Please include your variance number so we can easily find it in our database. If your event will be postponed until later in 2021, rather than canceled, we are waiving the date-change fee until the state-of-emergency is over.

Applying for a Noise Variance

If you have a reasonable request for why you would like formal permission to be able operate 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 unreasonable and likely to be denied, we work to let applicants know as soon as possible.

We have 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 deemed complete and all required fees are paid.

You can read detailed instructions on how to apply below or download instructions here:

Steps for Applying for a Noise Variance for Construction

  1. Complete the Construction Variance Form (above). Please indicate in your application why you are requesting this temporary adjustment to the sound limits specified in the Noise Code. For example, explain if the construction work is required by another government agency, such as the Portland Bureau of Transportation; if the project will happen only at night;  if the work will take longer to finish than the normal permitted construction hours from 7 AM to 6 PM, Mondays through Saturdays; if the construction is unsafe for pedestrians, bicyclists, or vehicles to be around ; if you are asking for special consideration to be able to work on a Sunday.
  2. Notify neighbors potentially impacted by the noise variance. The application won’t be considered complete without adequate neighbor notification about the fact that a noise variance application is being submitted and citizens have an opportunity to comment to the Noise Program about the requested variance. Please contact the Noise Program for further details.
  3. The Noise Program will review your application. If your application’s request is unreasonable and likely to be denied, we will contact you as soon as possible.
  4. If your application is deemed complete, we will provide you with a processing number. Please note, this is not the final approval. Once you receive a notice of a complete application from our office, you will need to use the application number provided to pay for the variance request. The Noise Program cannot finalize your noise variance request until you have submitted a complete variance application and paid your fee
  5. Receive final approval and Noise Variance Permit. Once you have submitted a complete variance application and paid your application fee, you will receive a Noise Variance decision within ten (10) business days for more basic requests, but in as long as forty-five (45) business days if the work could have a significant impact and the request becomes a Noise Review Board decision.

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

  1. Complete the Activities and Events Variance Form (above). Please indicate in your application why you are requesting this temporary adjustment to the sound limits specified in the Noise Code. For example, if the event is a culturally special day of celebration; if the event is an annual event for a company; if the event is a non-profit fundraising event. 
  2. Notify neighbors potentially impacted by the noise variance event. The application won’t be deemed complete without adequate neighbor notification about the fact that a noise variance application is being submitted and citizens have an opportunity to comment to the Noise Program office about the requested variance. Please contact the Noise Program for further details. 
  3. The Noise Program will review your application. If your application’s request is unreasonable and likely to be denied, we will contact you as soon as possible.
  4. If your application is deemed complete, we will provide you with a variance application number. Please note, this is not a final approval. Once you receive an application completeness notice from our office, you will need to use the variance application number provided to pay for the variance application (see cost table below). The Noise Program cannot finalize your noise variance request until you have submitted a complete application and paid your fee
  5. Receive final approval and a Noise Variance. Once you have submitted a complete application and paid your review fees, you will receive your Noise Variance decision within ten (10) business days for more basic requests but in as long as forty-five (45) business days if the event could have a significant impact and the request becomes a Noise Review Board decision. 

Standards for Review

All applications will be reviewed considering the following measures:

  • The reason a variance is needed
  • Length of time the noise will be occurring
  • 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.

For more information, please call our Noise Hotline at 503-823-7350, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.


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.

Location