The Turlock Planning Commission is hard at work updating the city’s noise ordinance, but regardless of its efforts noise pollution is expected to grow citywide over the next 30 years.
The revised noise ordinance is primarily intended to make the law easier for Turlock police officers to enforce, focusing on whether noises are considered to be nuisances rather than absolute volume measurements. Those “nuisance” provisions apply mainly to short lived, activity-based noise – like noise caused during a party.
Some other noises, primarily those caused by construction machinery or other, more permanent mechanical devices like air conditioners, will still be governed by decibel limits.
But parties and construction are relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of Turlock’s noise. The increase in sound pollution will come almost entirely due to an unavoidable increase in traffic; cars and road noise are the number one source of noise in Turlock.
“Almost the entire city will have some kind of impact from traffic noise,” Turlock Planning Director Debbie Whitmore said. “… As traffic increases, that’s just one of those things that we sort of have to accept as the city grows.”
The City of Turlock’s population is expected to grow from roughly 70,000 to 105,000 over the next 30 years. As more people move to Turlock, more people will subsequently drive through Turlock.
The City of Turlock will require new home builders to insulate homes against noise, building sound walls and using advanced building techniques. But regardless of what is done, noise will likely increase overall.
“The reality is there’s very little, oftentimes, that can be done to mitigate the impact,” Whitmore said.
The good news, Planning Commissioner Michael Brem said, is that advances in technology may mitigate some of the noise. New, silent electric cars are likely to become more common and quieter rubberized pavement is being installed in all new Turlock paving projects.
“This, I think, is a worst case scenario,” Brem said. “It should be better than that.”