In 2009, the City Council adopted the current version of the noise ordinance after the Virginia Supreme Court declared the City's previous noise ordinance unconstitutionally vague. The current noise ordinance system relies on sound pressure levels measured by noise meters.

To view details of the current noise ordinance, visit the Municode Library.

Proposed Changes

The proposed changes to the noise ordinance would streamline enforcement with reduced reliance on specialized sound meter equipment. The proposed ordinance would establish a hybrid penalty structure, and impose civil penalties for some violations while preserving criminal penalties for repeat or severe violations.

A key change in the noise ordinance is the addition of a "plainly audible" standard, where certain sounds that are plainly audible inside an individual's home or beyond a specified distance from its source would constitute violations. Sound is plainly audible if it can be heard by the human ear with or without a medically approved hearing aid or device. 

A violation of the plainly audible standard would result in a civil violation punishable by a fine of $250 for a first offense. Excessive noise as determined by decibel readings will continue to be violations under the proposed ordinance and may result in misdemeanor charges.

The City Attorney explains details of the proposed changes in the video below.

Public Input

On Jun. 28, 2022, Councilmembers John Moss and Guy Tower attended a community meeting in Building 19 to hear public comments on the proposed amendments. Comments received in response to a previous SpeakUp VB survey were provided to City Council.

On Jul. 12, the legislative item appeared on City Council's agenda and Council voted to defer the item to Oct. 18, 2022, to allow for additional community engagement. Residents and stakeholders were invited to provide comments and suggested textual changes via a SpeakUp VB survey (Second Round) which closed on Sept. 30. 

Councilmembers Moss and Tower, along with City staff, reviewed the edits and comments received and prepared a reconciled proposed ordinance, as well as a spreadsheet detailing the recommended changes, specific concerns and/or questions. (These documents are linked on the right side of this page.)

On Oct. 18, City Council again deferred the proposed amendments so the public could review and comment on the reconciled proposed amendments. Another SpeakUp VB survey (Resident Input) was opened to the public to review the proposed amendments and provide comments. The survey closed on Nov. 13, 2022, and the feedback received was provided to City Council for their consideration.

Additionally, two public meetings were held with Councilmembers Moss and Tower on Nov. 16, at Princess Anne High School; one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

The reconciled proposed amendments appeared on City Council's agenda for action on Dec. 6, 2022. The motion to approve the amendments failed by a vote of 5-6.

The current noise ordinance remains in effect and can be found in the Virginia Beach Code of Ordinances.

The formal session of the City Council for Dec. 6, 2022, is linked below. The discussion on the noise ordinance begins at 1:15.00.

Formal Session - Dec. 6, 2022

City Council Formal - 12/06/2022
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Proposed Amendments to Noise Ordinance (Begins at 20:40)

City Council Workshop - 05/24/2022
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