Bellevue City Code Amendment (BCCA) to update the exempt hours for construction noise, clarify the current construction noise exemptions, create a public notice process and modify the average allowed decibel levels for sleeping areas.
Construction Noise BCCA
The Construction Noise BCCA aims to minimize the public's exposure to excessive noise while supporting the development of private property in Bellevue. To this end, the BCCA clarifies and updates allowed noise exemption hours extensions for construction, and codifies the notification process for noise exemption applications.
Currently, the code exempts construction noise from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays other than single family additions or remodels, which are authorized until 8 p.m. Certain activities, such as mitigation of transportation impacts, construction of schools and government facilities, site stabilization due to winter weather, and emergency work at able to gain authorization to extend these hours through a noise exemption application.
Sleeping Areas BCCA
The Sleeping Areas BCCA aims to lower the cost of multifamily construction by modifying the current decibel limits to be consistent with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) standards. Currently, the city requires the average noise levels for indoor sleeping areas to be no greater than 40 decibels. In evaluating cost breakdowns, there is significant expenses associated with meeting the 40-decibel threshold and a better balance to be found in creating comfortable living environments while encouraging multifamily development. The proposed amendment updated the average noise levels to 45 decibels, consistent with other indoor living spaces and HUD and EPA recommendations.
What is changing?
- Changes existing exempt hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Clarifies activities that can be authorized to extend these hours by permit, including traffic mitigation, construction of schools and government facilities, weather impacts, and health and safety concerns.
- Creates public notification process and allows for multiple extensions within a 30-day period to the exempt hours in a single permit.
- Updates the maximum average sleeping area noise level from 40 decibels to 45 decibels, consistent with HUD and EPA standards.
What will not change?
- Construction noise continues to be regulated by the city and disallowed outside of exempt hours unless authorized by a noise exemption permit.
- Construction noise from single-family additions and remodels will remain exempt until 8 p.m.
- Limits on average noise in indoor living areas will remain at 45 dBH.
Opportunities to Engage
Please send comments to the contact listed on this page.
Project Timeline and Schedule
|Meeting, Event, or Action Taken
|City Council Study Session
|City Council Action
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the reasons for this update?
The update aims to clarify for the public and development community which activities qualify to extend exempt hours for construction noise. The activities that do qualify are to ensure that construction impacts to traffic and neighboring properties are minimized and to protect the health and safety of Bellevue’s residents and visitors and construction workers. Allowing multiple instances of hour extensions in a single permit will streamline the permitting process and provide more transparency to the public.
The aim of changing the allowed noise in sleeping areas from 40 decibels to 45 decibels is to further encourage and lower the cost of multi-family housing by creating consistency between federal recommendations and City Code for indoor noise.
What is the difference between 40 decibels and 45 decibels?
The difference between 40 and 45 decibels is relatively small. Forty decibels is generally compared to the volume of your refrigerator compressor while 50 is the volume of a moderate rainfall. Sounds over 85 decibels are dangerous to hearing over long periods and would be comparable to a lawnmower or hair dryer.
What properties are required to meet indoor noise standards?
Any property with ambient sound levels over 65 decibels at the property line is required to do sound attenuation to meet the City’s indoor noise levels. The current indoor noise limits are 40 decibels for sleeping areas and 45 decibels for all other living areas. Items such as traffic and vacuum cleaners are generally comparable 65 decibels.
What if I have a complaint about construction noise?
City staff will respond to noise complaints. You may report a complaint by calling the Bellevue Police Department non-emergency phone number, (425) 577-5656, or through the MyBellevue customer assistance portal.