Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yes... packs of Harleys *ARE* illegal in California

This morning a very large gaggle of Harley Davidsons roared past our house in our normally quiet neighborhood. The noise was deafening. About 50 motorcycles! It went on for several minutes. My husband called the police. This is the Santa Cruz, California Police (Telephone +1.831.471.1131).

My husband reached Bill, the police officer on dispatch duty. Bill listened to the complaint and said there was nothing he could do about it because "riding a motorcycle is not illegal". Just then another wave of 50 Harleys passed through, my husband had to speak more loudly and Bill told my husband to "stop shouting". Bill refused to give his last name. He just gave a number, #582, but he refused to explain what the number was -- his badge number? his employee ID number?

Bill is right that riding a motorcycle is not illegal.

But Bill is wrong in that the riders are engaging in an illegal activity. Specifically, they are riding illegal bikes and violating a city ordinance and a California vehicle code:

(1) The Harley Davidson motorycles they are riding are not lawful vehicles; they are modified to produce more noise, specifically 116 decibels. The noise exceeds the legal decibel level permitted according to California Vehicle Code 27202 (80 decibels). Therefore, they are not driving lawful vehicles.

(2) Santa Cruz Ordinance 9.36.020 Section B restricts the amount of noise a person can make:

"9.36.020 UNREASONABLY DISTURBING NOISES. No person shall make, cause, suffer or permit to be made any noises or sounds (a) which are unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying to people of ordinary sensitiveness or which are so harsh or so prolonged or unnatural or unusual in their use, time or place as to cause physical discomfort to any person, and (b) which are not necessary in connection with an activity which is otherwise lawfully conducted..."

The key point here is section (b). Riding a motorcycle is normally a lawful activity; riding a motorcycle modified to make noise that violates that California vehicle code is unlawful.

It is a $100 fine. With 100 Harley riders that would have been $10,000 in fines had the police been doing their job this morning.

Under another theory, an organized group of Harley Davidson riders occupying most of the street is a parade or an assembly, and that requires a permit, and while I am unable to check (since it is a Saturday), I am 99% certain that they do not have a permit.

So why doesn't Bill, the dispatch police officer, understand this? Did Bill get poor police training from the Santa Cruz police department? Did our California educational system fail him?

Since "repetition is the key to learning", please call the phone number above at the Santa Cruz police department, and ask the police what they plan to do about enforcing the law regarding these illegal bikes and the deafening noise they produce that violates both California law and the City of Santa Cruz ordinance.



Mary Elizabeth Conn said...

You are soooo right. I am sick to death of these noise machines, and concerned about all of us being forced to listen. Apparently, (is this policy?) the PD refuses to prosecute certain "favorite" offenders.

Mary Elizabeth Conn said...

Oh, Chris, could I re-publish your blog on mine? Giving you credit, etc., of course.