After noise complaints from citizens, Missouri City is considering adding clarification to its existing noise ordinance.

The big picture

At a June 17 meeting, Missouri City City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to clarify its existing nuisance standard, also known as the reasonable person standard.

The proposed changes would outline factors for police officers to consider when investigating noise complaints, including:
  • Proximity of sound to sleeping facilities
  • Land use, nature and zoning of sound-producing location
  • Time of day or night the sound occurs
  • Duration of the sound
  • Number of people impacted by the sound
  • Noise level of the sound above ambient sound, such as traffic
  • Enhancement of the sound by electronic or mechanical means
  • Use of a special event, park use or other permit
  • Frequency of the sound—whether its recurrent, intermittent or constant
“I vetted [the factors] through every one of our police supervisors, including our command staff, and overwhelmingly they are in favor of keeping the ordinance as it is with these slight adjustments,” Missouri City Police Chief Brandon Harris said.

The existing ordinance states any loud, unnecessary sound that can annoy, disturb, injure or endanger other residents is unlawful.

The proposed ordinance would change “others” to instead be “a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.” It also defines sleeping facilities as a permanent, enclosed and habitable structure equipped with a bed that primarily serves as a location for sleeping, according to agenda documents.

Council members also opted to specify that noise needed to be at a minimum from the hours of midnight-6:59 a.m., making the time consistent across the city.

“I think consistency of time ... is needed,” Missouri City Mayor Robin Elackatt said. “This is a very important topic we are discussing because we need to give some clarity to our police department, ... and our citizens and our small-business owners to make sure they adhere to it.”

Why it matters

The Missouri City Police Department has received 592 noise-related complaints for 411 different locations in fiscal year 2023-24, Harris said, noting most of the complaints are related to music, partying or talking loudly.

Of those 592 complaints, 137 were against local business B’s Wine Bar, which is located at 8027 Hwy. 6, Ste. 100, Missouri City. Most of the complaints toward the wine bar came from one individual, Harris said.

The background

The amendment comes after city officials considered changing the ordinance to decibel-related restrictions in October and November, but city staff chose to not change to a decibel requirements standard as the readings often do not hold up in court, Harris said.

What else?

City Council member Jeffrey Boney also requested city staff add a discussion item to a future council meeting to establish a fine or citation for callers who excessively make false noise complaints.

“No one should have to deal with being harassed as an individual or a business; I think we need to proactively do something to protect all citizens and all stakeholders in the city,” he said.

Other council members and Elackatt echoed the need for consequences for those who are consistently calling in noise complaints that don’t violate the city’s noise ordinance.

“We have to have rules that fit everybody; we can’t just have rules for a certain business or a certain segment of people or certain population—that’s not how our city works,” Elackatt said.

Stay tuned

The ordinance will need to be approved upon second reading at the next City Council meeting to go into effect. The next regular council meeting will be held July 1.