Noise and Nuisiances


Dealing with Noisy Bars and other Nuisances from Alcohol-licensed Businesses

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Here is how you can register your complaints with the appropriate agencies to effectively address these problems. You can use the following steps to take action on NOISE and other problems (e.g., public drunkenness, over-serving, loitering, overcrowding, trash, illegal signage, license condition violations, etc.) that are directly related to an alcohol-selling establishment. (See the end of the handout for how to deal with loud drunks walking through the neighborhoods disturbing the peace or committing other crimes.)

A) When the Noise or Problem occurs:

  • Call SDPD non-emergency phone (619) 531-2000 to report the problem, including the street address and name of the business, and get the incident number. This call is important even if the police do not respond that night. Complaints about dispatchers (e.g., being rude, dismissive, not providing incident number) can be made to the Assistant Chief, Patrol Operations, Todd Jarvis, pjarvis@pd.sandiego.gov

WHY: It will register as a call for service regarding that address and will help get more police monitoring in that area. It will go on the business’s record, which is reviewed when they ask for changes in their license or when their entertainment permit is up for renewal.

  • Keep a Log. Record incident number in a log, along with date, time, details of problem and any action you took. Record all occurrences of problems in your log, even if you do not call the police or take any action at that time. If noise is the problem, it is a good idea to video tape the sounds heard inside your residence while you narrate the date, time and noise source.When possible, take photos or video of violations and violators. File complaints in writing as much as possible and keep copies.

WHY: Your log, video/photos and copies of written complaints provide evidence and history that make your complaints much more effective and help law enforcement make their case.

B) Next day, file complaints with these agencies:

  • File a complaint with ABC – on-line at abc.ca.gov or call (619) 525-4064. You can also send copies of your log, photos, videos, etc. You can ask for the list of conditions attached to the alcohol license.

WHY: ABC enforcement is complaint-driven. Complaints go on the alcohol license record, which is reviewed if the business asks for any changes in conditions, an upgrade, or an expansion. Repeated violations can result in ABC sanctions against the licensee.

  • For Noise and other city code violations – File a complaint with Neighborhood Code Compliance at (619) 236-5500 or at http://www.sandiego.gov/nccd/about/enforcement.shtmlGet all your neighbors to file complaints too, because the more complaints, the more likely enforcement action will be taken. Examples of municipal code violations are noise, illegal signage, illegal construction or structures, etc.

WHY: City enforcement of municipal code is often complaint-driven.

  • SDPD Vice – File a complaint by calling (619) 515-2777 and filling out a complaint form at http://www.sandiego.gov/police/forms/.  You can send copies of your log, photos, videos, etc. Find out if the business has an entertainment permit and what conditions are placed on that. You can also ask for the list of conditions attached to their alcohol license.

WHY: Your complaint will trigger SDPD Vice investigation and enforcement and will go on the business’s record. If the business has an entertainment permit, complaints will be taken into account during the annual renewal process.

  • Contact your SDPD Northern Division (Northern Division: Capt. Jerry Hara, jhara@pd.sandiego.gov; Lt. Northern Division Coastal Service Area, Thomas Underwood, tunderwood@pd.sandiego.gov; Community Relations Officer Larry Hesselgesser, lhessellgesser@pd.sandiego.gov) and explain the problem and history. For noise problems, ask the police to bring a decibel meter to the location at a time/day that you expect the noise to occur

WHY: The police cannot see everything and they need the help of the community to let them know when and where problems are occurring.

C) If Problem is Not Solved and Becomes Chronic:

  • Contact DART at (619) 533-5675. DART (Drug Abatement Response Team) operates out of the City Attorney’s office but the team also has members from SDPD Vice and Neighborhood Code Compliance.

WHY: DART is designed to deal with chronic problems that have not been solved through other efforts.

  • Contact Fred Zuckerman, Neighborhood Nuisance Program, at (858) 552-1717 or email fzuckerman@pd.sandiego.govThis program provides information and help on using small claims court to gain monetary restitution (up to $7,500 per person) for the adverse effects the problem has had on you.

WHY: The threat of being sued in small claims court may encourage resolution of the problem. If you do go to court and win, you will be compensated and the problem will be less likely to recur.

D) If the Problem is Loud Drunks Walking in the Neighborhoods Disturbing the Peace or Committing other Crimes:

  • Contact your SDPD Northern Division (Northern Division: Capt. Jerry Hara, jhara@pd.sandiego.gov; Lt. Northern Division Coastal Service Area, Thomas Underwood, tunderwood@pd.sandiego.gov; Community Relations Officer Larry Hesselgesser, lhessellgesser@pd.sandiego.gov)) and explain the problem and let the police know the days and times the nuisance is most likely to occur, so that police officers can monitor at those times.

WHY: The police cannot see everything and they need the help of the community to let them know when and where problems are occurring.

  • Contact Discover Pacific Beach (PB’s business improvement district) at 858 273-3303 and ask them to contact the alcohol-selling establishments and encourage them to post signs and educate their patrons about respecting the neighbors and being quiet in the neighborhoods.