A petition targeting late-night parties that keep neighbors awake was attracting hundreds of signatures along the lower Russian River this week.
“We were looking for 100 signatures,” said Marcy Cooper, a Guerneville resident who began circulating the petition last month. “We’ve more than doubled that.”
The signatures are still adding up. She hopes to hit 350 this month among residents living in Guerneville, Monte Rio and Rio Nido, said Cooper, who lives near the Russian River on Drake Road.
“Many in our two communities are speaking out and asking locals to consider signing this petition regarding a noise ordinance,” reads the petition circulating on social media targeting Guerneville and Monte Rio. “The main thing we all have in common [is] we are living near locally owned, loud, party homes.”
Noise ordinance support is coming from full-time river residents, who are working or parents raising kids or both, said Cooper.
“We all live full time in either Guerneville or Monte Rio. We all are local for many years. We are able to live here by mostly working elsewhere,” according to the petition. “We are all for great loud family events — but not 5-7 days non-stop in summer going ’till 2 a.m. or later,” reads Cooper’s petition. “People should quiet down at 9/10 for those who work.”
Petitioners hope to convince Sonoma County Supervisors to support a countywide noise ordinance similar to a noise ordinance in the Town of Windsor.
Windsor’s ordinance “is pretty simple,” said Cooper. She said Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick called Windsor’s ordinance “‘a pretty good one,’ and it works.”
Trying to quiet a seasonal resort area like the lower river in the summer when the town fills up with visitors may sound a little unrealistic, but Cooper said the river’s annual permitted events such as the upcoming Lazy Bear Weekend are not the problem.
“There’s a place for that,” said Cooper. “This isn’t for the town, and it’s not for special events,” such as next month’s Lazy Bear Weekend when hundreds of burly guys arrive for a few days of carousing.
“We’re all for tourists,” said Cooper.
The county’s vacation rental permit ordinance, which includes limits on noise, prohibits amplified outdoor music and requires guests to respect a “quiet time” from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. is working, said Cooper. Vacation rental owners or their property managers are also required to provide neighbors with a number to call if vacation guests violate the rules.
“When I call, I get a response,” said Cooper.
Russian River Alliance President and Monte Rio resident Chuck Ramsey is also advocating for the noise ordinance.
Ramsey and Cooper have asked the new Russian River Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) to put the noise ordinance proposal on a MAC meeting agenda for discussion and a possible recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, but so far they haven’t heard back from the MAC.
“I guess they felt it’s not important,” said Cooper.
Ramsey and Cooper both ran for seats on the Lower River MAC in last year’s election when the advisory committee was formed. Neither was elected.
MAC member Jeanette Dillman, who’s on the MAC agenda-setting committee, said the fledgling MAC is still working on its agenda process for the all-volunteer MAC that meets every other month.
Since the MAC was first sworn in, it’s had its hands full mostly with issues connected with the Russian River flood disaster in February, said Dillman.
The MAC agendas “have been packed full,” said Dillman. “So far we’ve pretty much dealt with the flood. It’s difficult to cover everything that people want to cover.”
“I feel like we’re in the very beginning of formulating a good foundation,” for how the MAC will proceed, said Dillman,
“It’s going to take some time. It’s a long process and it’s slow,” said Dillman, noting that, if the noise ordinance gains support, “it will eventually get on the agenda.”