ELKHART — Several years of cracking down on loud music reverberating from cars seems to have helped turn down the problem in the city of Elkhart.
Mayor Dick Moore, who campaigned in support of a tougher noise ordinance seven years ago, touted the progress seen in reducing the number of complaints about excessive noise.
Without pointing to specific numbers, Moore said he’s noticed a difference.
A few years ago, Moore said it was common to pull up to a traffic light and be able to hear the music from nearby vehicles and could literally see or feel vehicles vibrating from the music.
“The complaints have come down a lot,” Moore said Monday during a news conference called to address several issues that encompass summertime public safety.
For Moore, the issue boiled down to quality of life. He defended the policy, adding, “There’s nothing wrong with living in a peaceful and quiet environment.”
The city of Elkhart has had a noise ordinance since 1994, but it was significantly bolstered after Moore arrived in office.
The ordinance covers noise from vehicles, music coming from vehicles and music from residences.
The majority of the offenses involve music in vehicles, said police Lt. Mike Sigsbee.
“Once people started paying attention (to the ordinance), the numbers started coming down,” Sigsbee said.
Indeed, the number of citations has fallen in recent years.
In 2009, the city tallied 1,131 noise-related citations. In 2010, that fell to 972 and a year later, that number was cut in half and fell to 415 citations in 2011.
In 2012, the number rose to 524.
For the first six months of 2013, the number of citations stood at 163.
Three unmarked police vehicles used by the city in traffic control have helped crack down on noise violations, said assistant chief Laura Koch.
Patrolling for noise violations in marked vehicles proved less effective because potential violators tend to turn down the music when they see a police car, Koch said.
Moore on Monday said the city of Elkhart will continue to enforce the noise ordinance.
“Our police department will be alert and watchful of those violating the ordinance,” Moore said.
“While summer activities are to be enjoyed, let us be sure that what we do does not take away from other people’s enjoyment,” Moore said.
The fine for a first offense is $250. The second offense doubles the fine to $500 and a third offense will cost $1,000. A fourth offense is $2,500.
Repeat offenses must happen within 1,000 days of each other or it reverts back to being a $250 fine.
In 2009, fines from the noise ordinance totaled $172,300. The following year, it nearly reached $250,000.
So far in 2013, the fine revenues from the noise ordinance total $44,871. Combined, since 2008, the city has collected more than $907,000 in fines, according to information provided by Moore.
Moore has said previously that he looks forward to the day when residents adhere to the ordinance and the collection of revenues from the fines begin to fall.
In addressing other summer- themed public safety concerns, Moore urged people to follow the rules of the road, observe state laws governing boating and keep an eye out for young people on bikes, scooters and motorcycles.