City Bans Residents From Speaking Above Whisper at Night

Sheffield Lake, Ohio, approved a noise ordinance on Tuesday that reduces the decibel limit at night to 40. That limit is barely over the level of a soft whisper and about 20 decibels lower than the noise of a normal conversation.

The new ordinance lays out strict noise regulations, including the lowering of the maximum number of decibels that are allowed to be produced from private property at night. The new rule of not producing noises above 40 decibels is for 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 decibels is equivalent to the hum of a refrigerator. A "soft whisper" emits around 30 decibels, according to the health agency. Meanwhile, a "normal conversation" or an air conditioner produces 60 decibels of noise and would thus not be permitted in Sheffield Lake past 9 p.m.

Sheffield Lake's daytime limit of 60 decibels between the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. remains the same. The city's vehicle decibel limit of 85 also is unchanged by the measure.

The new ordinance doesn't just place restrictions on decibel limits with the city. Any sound that "annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of ordinary sensitivities" is now considered to be a noise disturbance.

The noise legislation passed 6-0 in the Sheffield Lake City Council, with one council member absent from the meeting.

The Elyria, Ohio, Chronicle Telegram reported that Sheffield Lake Councilman Rocky Radeff said the new legislation came after multiple residents had made comments to Mayor Dennis Bring about excessive noise in their neighborhoods.

"With the decibels, it has to go on for five minutes straight," Radeff told the paper about the new rules. "Once it's over five minutes, then it violates, and we can write a ticket."

Radeff also reportedly said police officers will most likely give people who violate the new noise ordinance a warning before handing out tickets.

Also during the meeting on Tuesday, the Sheffield Lake City Council approved legislation that will include trampolines among other "accessory structures" that are permitted to be kept only in residents' backyards.

One councilwoman argued against the trampoline measure, saying it was a safety issue and that some parents monitor their kids playing on the equipment through video cameras on their front doorbells.

The Chronicle Telegram reported residents can seek a variance to allow them to keep a trampoline in their front yard.

Newsweek contacted the council president and the mayor's office in Sheffield Lake for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Person shushing
Sheffield Lake, Ohio, placed restrictions on noise at night that bans talking at a normal volumes. Getty