How to file a noise complaint in San Jose

San Jose is the Capital of Silicon Valley, and is considered one of the nation’s best-managed cities, and one of the best places in the US to live and work at. With that introduction, it is hard to understand how San Jose does not have a clear noise ordinance that attempts to regulate noise.

With a population of just over 1 million people, San Jose stands as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. It is a vibrant hub for arts and culture, and of course, tech, a lot of tech.

San Jose’s noise ordinance

Well, I’m sorry to say, but the title of this section is deceiving. San Jose does not have a noise ordinance. According to the San Jose’s police department website

There is no defined law that states by what time noise needs to be kept down. There is no specific decibel level set either.

They also take the liberty to suggest what would be the best way to go about making some noise.

We usually suggest you contact your immediate neighbors and find out when is a good time to play and how loud you can get without bothering them.

San Jose Police Department


How to file a noise complaint in San Jose

That being said, the fact that San Jose does not have a proper noise ordinance does not mean you can’t file a noise complaint.

In most cases, whether in San Jose or anywhere else, filing a noise complaint gets the police to respond to the scene, and most people usually take that warning and bring their volume down. If you want to achieve that you might be able to, even in San Jose, but if you need to take your claim further… well, let’s just say that will be a complicated path to follow.

File a complaint about a loud party

As a matter of fact, the San Jose Police Department seems to worry about some types of noise, regardless of the poor ordinance to back them up. 

They have a page on the website where they detail how you should act in case of loud parties. 

In a nutshell, they want you to call the police non-emergency number (408) 277-8900 and provide as much information as you can, including how many people are participating in the party, if you are able to perceive any imminent dangers, etc.

Now if this party is happening at a short-term rental that’s listed on Airbnb, we recommend that you also contact Airbnb about the situation. Believe it or not, they might be able to do more for you than the police in this case. Take a minute to read this article where we explain step by step what’s the best course of action for dealing with a noisy Airbnb neighbor.

File a complaint for other residential noise

If you want to file a noise complaint related to residential noise, the procedure is pretty much the same. You should contact San Jose Police Department’s non-emergency number, which is (408) 277-8900.

Call this number if a neighbor is playing music too loud, or taking their DIY too late into the night.

As I said, San Jose does not establish quiet times that set what too late actually is, but most cities set 10pm to 7am as their quiet hours, so as a rule of thumb, even in San Jose, it is likely that the police will back you up and ask your neighbor to bring the volume down if they are being too noisy after 10pm.

How loud is too noisy is also something that San Jose’s nonexistent noise ordinance does not tell us, but again, if we borrow the book from other cities, 80dB outside of your home and 65dB inside are usually considered noise levels that should not be crossed without good reason.

File a complaint for business or construction noise

If on the other hand you want to file a noise complaint related to noise from a business or construction site that is bothering you, you can try your luck with San Jose’s Code Enforcement Division at (408) 535-7770.

The same rules of thumb we mentioned for residential cases also apply here. Just keep in mind that businesses such as restaurants and bars are usually given a couple of extra hours of loud time on Fridays and Saturdays. So unless they literally took their concert speakers out into the streets, the police are unlikely to respond to a complaint about a noisy bar before midnight.

Tips to file a noise complaint in San Jose

Even though the options don’t look very promising, we encourage you to file a complaint whenever you think you should.

We also recommend that you document the incident/s. We all carry a smartphone in our pockets these days, so record a video of what’s going on so that you can show the police in the event they show up when the party is already over. Don’t delete them later either, keep them as evidence in case you need to prove a repeated offense.

This takes us to one last tip. Be persistent. Noise ordinance or not, the police takes repeated offenses of any kind much more seriously than first-time infractions. So if your neighbor throws a party every weekend, file a complaint every weekend. It’s tedious, but it is also your best bet at being heard.

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This article was a collaborative effort by the Fight for Silence team, a group of like-minded noise fighters with experience in fields such as physics, construction, medicine, law, and more. You can read more about us and our mission here.

2 responses to “How to file a noise complaint in San Jose”

  1. Tran says:

    We continuously report a noise complaint literally almost every weekend with no luck. The noisy party keeps our 3yr old up all night. I understand that the police are busy but with the amount of calls that we’ve made, you would expect them to respond eventually right? The noisy party usually goes from the morning to sometimes midnight. It’s ridiculous.

    • Hi Tran,

      Really sorry to hear that… Yep, San Jose has a surprisingly poor noise ordinance. You you can consider investing a little money to fix the problem you might want to consider hiring a lawyer who can contact your neighbors and start a legal file regarding the issue, it will be useful if you ever want to take your claims further.

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