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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New noise ordinance regulates leaf blowers, barking dogs, and much more

The new noise ordinance approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in November is really detailed and complicated. It lists specific types of noises that are allowed in the daytime and prohibited at night and sets decibel levels for certain noises in residential, commercial, and industrial areas.

The noise ordinance takes effect Feb. 17. Here’s what’s banned:
  • Using a loudspeaker or amplifier between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Making noise that can be plainly heard in another person’s home with the doors and windows closed 10 p.m.-7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m.-7 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and the day before a federal holiday.
  • Operating a leaf blower between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Operating a lawn mower between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. within 100 yards of a dwelling and between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. 100 yards away from a dwelling.
  • Fixing cars or mechanical devices outside between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Collecting trash or recycling within 100 yards of a residence 9 p.m.-6 a.m.
  • Loading or unloading trucks outside within 100 yards of a residence 9 p.m.-6 a.m.
  • Using dog parks Monday through Friday before 7 a.m. or after dusk or before 8 a.m. or after dusk on Saturday, Sunday, or the day before a federal holiday.
  • Barking, howling, meowing, squawking, or quacking animals between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. when it can be heard inside a home with the doors and windows closed or if these sounds can be heard 7 a.m.-10 p.m. for more than five minutes consecutively or non-consecutively during a 10-minute period.
Noise from athletic fields is permitted between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m-11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and the day before a federal holiday. However, loudspeaker use remains prohibited 10 p.m.-7 a.m.
Some noises are excluded from regulation, including generators used during emergencies, snow removal, cars on the road, Metro trains, and police or fire sirens.

To enforce the law, the county may seek civil and criminal penalties against violators, as well as court orders to prohibit current and future noise. Civil penalties start at $250, rising to $500 for subsequent offenses. Criminal convictions would be a misdemeanor.

To complain about noise, contact the Department of Code Compliance during work days, 703-324-1300. Call the non-emergency police number after 4 p.m., 703-691-2131.


  1. Animals can not make noise for 5 minutes during the day. Alot of people will be getting in trouble for that one. How will they enforce a dog barking for 5 minutes? By the time anyone came to check the dog will be inside. Are they kidding? Will the police be able to give a ticket? Let us not forget that Code Compliance does not work evening, nights, or weekends.

    1. Video camera. (Just sayin'). When I was a prosecutor, I spent way too much time dealing with citizens who were oblivious to the fact that other people might be sensitive to having to listen to their dogs raising cain every few minutes. That was typically the result of dogs being left unattended outside. The resulting altercations frequently escalated into brawls. I doubt if the Fairfax cops will be appreciative of having to waste their time on these matters. So, I wouldn't advise dog owners to be too clever in trying to finesse this noise ordinance.


    I can can only hope that now my local White Van Clan will stop running their leaf blowers at 5:45 AM on Saturday.

    > Barking, howling, meowing, squawking, or quacking

    Is this the letter of the law? Are yowling and chirping still allowed?

  3. Thank god they covered quacking. My neighbor's ducks are driving me nuts.

    1. I thought the same thing Adam.

    2. Really, I hope this will put an end to all the noise by the NIMBYS and the IMBECILES in Mason District.

      As for the dog barking, good luck with that, the County can't enforce the laws we have, I can't imagine that they will be able to manage these new regs. Its a good new steps but those NIMBYS and IMBECILES make a racket and are impossible to quiet down.

  4. Enter window replacement companies. New windows definitely help.