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Noise Issues in Parking Area Sweeping

Salt Lake City Proposes Noise Ordinance, April 2006

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Update on June 7th: Royal DeLegge, SLC's Director of Environmental Health, said the issue is tabled until a meeting that will be held sometime between the first week in August and September. You may also view his department's responses to comments on this issue via this PDF file.

During the 15+ years I've been involved with sweeping, the best way to deal with noise issues has usually been to stop any proposed ordinances in their tracks before they can get momentum. Unfortunately, in this case we received notice of only 3 business days on a proposed ordinance for a major U.S. metro area, Salt Lake City.

Although SLC has had a noise ordinance in place for many years, it has never been used to restrict nighttime sweeping. Even though contractors have had to send their trucks out to break the law every night, except in rare instances no action has been taken to stop sweeping.

Debbie Jacketta

On the afternoon of Thursday, April 13th, I got a call from Debbie Jacketta, who took over Jacketta sweeping from her father some years ago and who has been involved in the business for 38 years. Debbie is also a past president of naPSa.

Debbie told me she had just learned about a proposed ordinance that would ban all power sweeping from 10pm to 7am within the SLC limits. The public hearing for it was scheduled for the following Tuesday evening. There was little time to organize any type of defense.

On Friday, I called a variety of officials throughout SLC, including the health department, public works, visitors' bureau and the local newspaper. Amazing to me at the time, at not one of these organizations was I able to reach a real person, even though it was mid-day. I left messages requesting a callback. As of today, the 21st, none of the agencies has done so.

I also developed a multi-page letter detailing the information SLC officials needed to know about why parking lot sweeping is done at night, as well as the long-term ramifications of not allowing sweeping during nighttime hours. The pdf version was sent via email to all I had left voicemail for on friday, as well. (To assist readers in 'grabbing' this information to adapt it to their own usage, the file is provided here as a Word document and here as a PDF file.)

On Tuesday, still having not heard back from any of the officials, I called them all again. This time I got through to the health department and the newspaper. I made an agreement with Royal DeLegge, SLC's Director of Environmental Health, to contact him a week after the public hearing. By then, he said, he'd have had a chance to also read the comments, including mine, and would have a better assessment of the direction they would be heading.


Debbie's notice of the hearing came from the Tymco's SLC-area dealer, who said they'd be calling the other contractors who used their machines in the area, as well. Although Debbie planned to call all the area contractors prior to the meeting, as well, as it turned out she couldn't find the time to do so.

On the 18th, Debbie reported she was the only sweeping industry person that attended the hearing. If, indeed, they were contacted, I cannot fathom why each and every SLC contractor wouldn't have come to 'say their piece,' employees in tow and in uniform. Hard to imagine, when the proposed legislation would completely change the way each of their businesses would have to be run!

Here are excerpts of Debbie's email to me after the meeting: "I arrived at the meeting first so I got to give my comments first. I said I have been in business 38 years, that we are providing a community service by cleaning up litter and garbage and helping keep rodents away. I also said that when commercial areas and residential areas meet, the best way to deal with it is for the resident, the property manager or owner, and the contractor to work it out, which is usually changing the time the sweeping is done. I also said that we are helping businesses with their stormwater prevention plans and that I was not in favor of making these changes to the noise ordinance.

"Next speaker was Mathew Richards, who is an attorney with Kirton and McConkie and was representing the LDS Church. He said he agreed with what I had said and added that Temple Square is the number one tourist attraction in Utah, that is is open everyday until 10pm and the only time thay can clean it is at night. Brent Roberts, who is the Director of Church Headquarters also spoke against the change.

"I asked about Salt Lake City sweeping their downtown streets at night and if they would be exempt. The board didn't know when they swept their streets but said the city would not be exempt from the ordinance. Apparently SLC public works doesn't know they might not be able to sweep at night. The Church representatives stated that they do sweep at night right alongside their sweepers.

"At some point it was brought up that current noise regulations ban the running of all power equipment between the hours of 10pm and 7am unless there is a complaint. I stated I was aware that I was sending out trucks every night to break the law, and I thought it was ridiculous to have a law that wasn't enforced. The church stated the current law only applies to residential and commercial areas and they are an urban institutional area. I guess they didn't want to admit to breaking the law like I had.

"There was one more guy who spoke, and it was in favor of the ordinance. He owned 3 duplexes and had tenants who were building trucks that were noisy. The next meeting is May 4th at 7:30 to see what changes they make."

I'll add to this story as the situation changes and mention in my blog that there have been updates. In the meantime, if you'd like to send your comments about why nighttime sweeping bans are an unhealthy idea, the email link for comments is here.

If you need assistance in developing a plan of approach for noise restrictions in your area, feel free to contact the Team for ideas and help in your effort.

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