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Complaints of Excessive Noise Could Force Closure of Bowl Print-ready version

by Jess Raphael
UCSB Daily Nexus
October 19, 1979
Original article: PDF

Complaints of excessive noise at the County Bowl, registered by area residents, threaten the possibility of future Bowl concerts. When the County Bowl was built in the early thirties it featured classical and jazz ensembles. This was very unprofitable compared to the large profit of rock 'n roll shows. When rock bands began performing at the Bowl, residents of the surrounding area complained about the noise emanating from the concerts.

This prompted the County Board of Supervisors to write a sound limitation into the Bowl's lease. So far, this plan has been violated on seven occasions.

The Sound Plan, by which noise at every concert is monitored by the Environmental Health Agency, levies a fine if the decibel level is too high. The sound level is monitored two ways: in six-minute periods noise cannot exceed 65 decibels, and in 36 seconds noise cannot exceed 72 decibels. These levels are taken from the residential area surrounding the Bowl, and are compared to the sound level one hour before the concert.

On Saturday night, Sept. 22nd, Kenny Loggins' six-minute level hit 66.8 during his encore. Earlier that evening Louise Goffin had measured 67.5 decibels, also violating the Sound Plan. Since the Loggins' infraction was past 10:00 p.m., the Bowl was fined $1,000, in addition to the $300.00 fine for the two infractions alone. During Loggins' Sunday performance, there was one violation, bringing the total fine levied on the Bowl to $1,400.

Diane Kabayashi, who handled the case for the Environmental Health Agency, said she "got phone calls (complaints) at home, so I called the Bowl and told them the concert was too loud. According to the decibel readings, the noise only increased.

Although Sam Scranton, manager of the Bowl, would not comment because of the delicate state of negotiations between his company, Vision Attractions, and the city, the County Supervisor's office commented on the Bowl's position. Bowl authorities say that on occasion the sound monitor has been placed in positions as close to the Bowl as possible, rather than in a neutral area. If the measurements are taken as such, it would explain violations by such acts as Joni Mitchell and her warm-up group, (four voices with no accompaniment). To this Kobayashi replied that "the Sound Plan says we monitor from the surrounding residential areas, so that's what we've been doing.

Carol Hawkins, Supervisor Yager's assistant, said that "after every concert the same three to four people call (to complain) no matter who was playing or if they were in violation of the Sound Plan."

The groups who have violated the Sound Plan are America, (the loudest at 10.5 decibels over the limit during a 36-second period, and 12,8 decibels over the limit during a six-minute period), Joni Mitchell, The Persuasions, (Mitchell's back-up), Larry Carlton, (the back-up for Al Jarreau), Marshall Tucker, Kenny Loggins, and his back-up Louise Goffin.

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