Kirkland Council approves new noise ordinance for Lake Washington
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
June 7, 2012 · Updated 12:11 PM
Lake Washington will be a little quieter this summer after the Kirkland City Council approved a new noise ordinance for the lake on Tuesday.
The noise ordinance is an extension of the city’s ordinance that is used on land. It is the same type of aquatic noise enforcement that is used on Bonnie Lake, according to Oscar Rey, Kirkland assistant city attorney.
“The ordinance simply says water craft should be treated the same way as motor vehicles, as people in public places,” said Rey.
But the council decided to make a change during the meeting. The city’s noise ordinance states that excessive noise cannot exceed a 50-foot limit on land. Some argued that 50 feet is different on land than on water.
“Fifty feet is unrealistic on the water,” said Kirkland resident Greg Picinich. “Noise travels and there is nothing to absorb the noise … I don’t know how you are going to enforce that.”
Many on the council agreed. City staff suggested an amendment to have the limit be extended to 300 feet.
“If it is a football field away that is reasonable,” said Councilwoman Penny Sweet. “What we want here is behavioral changes.”
Councilman Bob Sternoff disagreed with how vague the noise ordinance for the city is worded. One of the issues was that it is up to law enforcement to make the decision on what is too loud.
“The burden to prove unreasonableness is a high burden for us and it includes a witness statement in most cases,” said Kirkland Police Department Capt. Bill Hamilton.
But that answer was not enough to sway Sternoff.
“How do you enforce it? To me it is completely subjective,” said Sternoff. “… I want to be fair to both sides without being punitive to either side. I can’t support it as it is written.”
The noise ordinance of 300 feet for Kirkland waters of Lake Washington was approved 6-1, with Sternoff as the only dissenting vote. Sternoff requested that the council and staff look at how the city’s overall noise ordinance is written. The new law will go into effect five days after publication, on approximately Saturday, June 16.
That noise ordinance does not apply to city sponsored or permitted events such as the Argosy Christmas Ships and the Fourth of July fireworks display.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.