Chapter 18.14 Exemptions And Variances

City Code Chapter

18.14.010 Exemptions.

(Amended by Ordinance 159276, effective January 24, 1987.)  

  1. The following sounds are exempted from the provisions of this Title.
  2. A.  Sounds caused by the performance of emergency work, or by the ordinary and accepted use of emergency apparatus and equipment.
  3. B.  Sounds caused by sources regulated as to sound production by federal law.
  4. C.  Sounds not electronically amplified, created by athletic and entertainment events other than motor vehicle racing events.
  5. D.  Sounds caused by agricultural and forestry operations within an FF zone of the City.
  6. E.  Blasting, under permit.
  7. F.  Sounds made by warning devices operated continuously for 3 minutes or less.

18.14.020 Variances.

(Amended by Ordinances 159276, 162098, 164010, 174718, 175772, 184101186216189078 and 191208, effective April 1, 2023.) 

  1. Any person who owns, controls, or operates any sound source which does not comply with provisions or standards of this Title may apply for a variance from such standard(s) or provision(s).
  2. A.  Application.  The application shall be in a form acceptable to the Noise Review Board or the Noise Control Officer, and shall state the date, time, and location of the event or activity and the reasons for which the variance is being sought.  The applicant may be required to supply additional information.  The application shall not be considered received until all information has been supplied.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to submit the application in proper form, and to allow sufficient time for review, as specified in Subsection 18.14.020 F.
  3. B.  The application shall not be considered until the application fee is received. All required fees are stated in the Fee Schedule adopted by City Council.  Fees will be updated annually or on an as needed basis.  The approved Fee Schedule will be available at the Bureau of Development Services.
  4. C.  All applications will be first sent to the Noise Control Officer who, with the Chair of the Noise Review Board, shall determine the appropriate reviewing body.  The criterion for this determination shall be: whether the noise impact is deemed significant in level or in numbers of persons or property affected.  If the potential noise impact is judged not to be significant, the application will be reviewed by the Noise Control Officer.  If the potential noise impact is judged to be significant, the review will be made by the Noise Review Board.  The Chair of the Noise Review Board may delegate Board review and action to the Noise Control Officer if, in the exercise of his or her discretion, such delegation is in the City’s interest.
  5. D.  Review of the application on its merit shall include consideration of at least the following:
    1. 1.  The physical characteristics, times and durations of the emitted sound,
    2. 2.  The geography, zone, and population density of the affected area,
    3. 3.  Whether the public health, safety or welfare is impacted,
    4. 4.  Whether the sound source predates the receiver(s), and
    5. 5.  Whether compliance with the standard(s) or provision(s) from which the variance is sought would produce hardship without equal or greater benefit to the public.
    6. 6.  Applicant’s previous history, if any, of compliance or noncompliance.
  6. E.  Public notification.  Notice of receipt of all applications to be reviewed by the Noise Review Board shall promptly be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the City.  Notice shall also be given to affected neighborhood association(s), or owners and residents of property likely to be affected by the application, and to any person who has in writing requested notice of such application.
  7. F.  Time for review and decision.  Applications to be reviewed by the Noise Control Officer shall be decided within 10 business days of receipt of the completed application.  Applications to be reviewed by the Noise Review Board shall be decided within 45 business days of receipt of the completed application.  Should the applicant require more accelerated review than that provided above, the process may be shortened to no more than 3 business days for review by the Noise Control Officer or 7 business days for review by the Noise Review Board, upon payment of an additional surcharge in the amount of the original application fee, and provided the Chair of the Noise Review Board and the Noise Control Officer conclude that such accelerated review is sufficient for evaluation, and in the City’s interest.
    1. 1.  Failure to reach decision within the times specified shall constitute automatic approval of the application, unless specifically waived by the applicant.  If not waived, such approval shall expire within 180 days following such failure.
  8. G.  Applications reviewed by the Noise Control Officer, or the Noise Review Board may be granted, denied, or granted with conditions.
  9. H.  All decisions shall be in writing, and those made by the Noise Review Board shall state the facts and reasons leading to the decision and shall be made available to the applicant, and any other person who has requested such decision.
  10. I.  Appeals to City Council.  A variance decision of the Noise Control Officer or the Noise Review Board may be appealed to the City Council as follows:
    1. 1.  Eligibility to appeal.  A variance decision may be appealed by the applicant, his legal representative, any affected neighborhood association, or any person who has submitted oral or written testimony on the application.
    2. 2.  Appeal acceptance criteria.  Notice of intent to appeal shall be in writing to the City Auditor’s Office within 10 days of the effective date of the decision.  The notice shall identify the decision that is being appealed, and include the appellant’s name, address, and signature, phone number, relationship to the variance decision action, and a clear statement of the specific reason(s) for the appeal including any alleged misapplication of City Codes.
    3. 3.  Upon receipt of such appeal, the Auditor shall then place the matter upon the Calendar of the City Council.
    4. 4.  At the time of the hearing, the City Council may consider such new matter as it deems appropriate, as well as the record developed before the Noise Control Officer or the Noise Review Board, and thereafter may affirm, reverse, modify or remand the decision.
  11. J.  All variances are subject to review upon complaint.  Notice of review shall be provided to the variance holder, and shall state the date, time and place of the review.  The permittee shall have the opportunity of hearing prior to any revocation.  Decisions relative to the review of a variance shall follow the procedures specified in Sections 18.14.020 H, and I.
  12. K.  Violation of the terms of the variance shall be grounds for the revocation of the variance.  The Noise Control Officer or any Police Officer of the City of Portland may summarily revoke or alter conditions of any variance.  A request for an applicant or responsible parties to cease activities shall be considered an immediate request and does not allow the permittee or his/her agent to complete any additional work or activity. Activities in violation of the Portland City Code or an approved Noise Variance must cease immediately upon notification of the Noise Variance revocation.