City Enforces Noise Ordinance at Last Thursday

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2014 – The City of Portland has been working for the last several years to better balance the impacts of noise at the monthly Last Thursday on Northeast Alberta Street. The noise from the event impacts neighbors, businesses and street musicians who have been drowned out by excessive loud musical performances. Beginning at this month’s Last Thursday, the City will work to equitably enforce noise violations that have an impact on the neighbors and businesses in the Alberta Street Neighborhood area.

“Musicians will be held accountable to comply with the existing 100 foot audibility standard in the Portland City Code for performances at Last Thursday,” said Paul van Orden, Noise Control Officer. “Citations will be issued for individuals and groups found in violation.”

As the event grows, the City regularly hears from the community that the event should be held to the same legal standards that are used at any other street festivals throughout the city.

“It is simply not equitable to let one un-permitted event, such as Last Thursday, operate at louder sound levels than we would for other community events such as the Mississippi Street Fair, Good in the Neighborhood, Belmont Street Festival, or the Hawthorne Street fest,” van Orden said. “These are just a handful of examples of events that have a robust number of volunteers, and work hard to comply with City permits and limit their impact on the community members living near their event.”

Over the last eight to 10 years, the Noise Control Office at the City of Portland has worked to educate musicians about the need along Alberta Street to comply with the City Codes related to street musician performance and the use of amplifiers in the public right of way that sets the maximum distance for sound to be audible at no more than 100 feet. After many years of education, and having announced the change in practice this spring, City staff will begin enforcing the existing rules. Other changes at the 2014 Last Thursday festivities include a 9 p.m. closure, to comply with neighborhood requests. 

“We started that practice in May and it went well,” said Chad Stover, adviser to Mayor Charlie Hales.

Tomorrow at Last Thursday, the Noise Office will be working at the beginning of the event to pace off to 125 feet with one staff person and than another officer will educate musicians and DJs if they are too loud and need to reduce their sound. It will be the intent to give musicians a little more distance than the 100 foot rule by having officers pace off to 125 feet. Any musicians who do not comply after a warning will be cited. The citation carries a $250 penalty.

“Last Thursday is a great event. People love it,” Stover said. “The mayor attended almost every one of them last year. We’re convinced it can remain a great event, and be a better neighbor. We’re looking forward to another season of vibrant Last Thursdays on Alberta with fewer noise impacts on neighbors.”