There's a local annual festival that plays their music really loudly. I can hear it from three and a half miles away, and it's really annoying. There are houses just a few hundred feet away; I'm sure it's far worse for them. Is that illegal? I don't plan to take legal action, but I'm curious if it would be possible.

  • @DaleM why did you delete your answer?
    – Someone
    Aug 1 at 4:18

1 Answer 1


It is not illegal to make sound, but there may be limits on what sound you can make, when and where. At the state level, in Oregon, you can see what the general limitations on "noise" are here. State law is basically irrelevant, you have to consult local law. Let's say that the event is in Cannon Beach, then here are the restrictions. Between 10pm and 7am, the amplitude limit is 50 dB. Note however that exceptions are allowed, for example:

Sounds caused by organized athletic or other group activities, when such activities are conducted on property generally used for such purposes, including parks, schools, churches, athletic fields and waterways; provided, however, that said exception shall not impair the city’s power to declare such events or activities otherwise to violate other laws, ordinances or regulations

and one can apply for a variance, which upon due consideration by the chief of police can allow e.g. a music festival. But that's only Cannon Beach. Unincorporated areas are only subject to county-wide restrictions, which tend to also be quite minimal (owing to the fact that farms are typically "out in the county", and county governments tend not to ticket farmers when their cows are noisy).

The first step would be to determine whether the event was in (prima facie) violation of the local noise ordinance, if any. The second would be to determine whether – assuming a variance had been granted – the person granting the ordinance had abused their discretion.

  • What about nuisance law? The right to enjoy your home or something? (I'm not a lawyer, nor from the US, just vaguely recall something like that from a YouTube binge)
    – jaskij
    Aug 2 at 9:40
  • Noise law is a subcase of nuisance law: the rules regarding nuisance noise are encoded in e,g, those municipal ordinances. The right to enjoy property is a two-edged sword, so infringement of the right to have a music festival has to be somehow balanced with another person's right to not hear music.
    – user6726
    Aug 2 at 14:28
  • I'm not sure if it matters or not, but it's not a music festival; it's a non-music-focused festival with music playing in the background. Really loudly.
    – Someone
    Aug 3 at 4:35
  • So, this sounds like one of two things: either blame the municipality for issuing such a permit, or the festival organizers overdid it with the sound level and nobody bothered to check?
    – jaskij
    Aug 3 at 9:51
  • In the real world of law, you cannot just stipulate that the noise exceeded limits, and the above testimony is not sufficient. For the sake of discussion, we pretend that someone measured sound level and found it to be above the regulatory limit. Also, feel free to personally blame whoever you want: here, we look at the question "what can you legally do about it?". Someone should have officially filed a complaint, then if the municipality ignored the complaintm there is a potential cause of action.
    – user6726
    Aug 3 at 14:15

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