Talking about noise

LIHUE — One week after the Kauai County Council voted 4 to 3 to repeal the island’s barking dog ordinance, Council Chair Mel Rapozo made good on his promise to start a discussion about possibly replacing it with a comprehensive noise ordinance.

During a meeting of the Committee of the Whole Wednesday, Rapozo suggested that a good way to start the process would be to look at noise ordinances in other jurisdictions to see what works and what doesn’t.

But unlike Kauai’s barking dog ordinance, which specifically provides penalties for animal owners who fail to stop their animal from incessantly barking, Rapozo said that a comprehensive noise ordinance would need to take other nuisance noises, such as loud music and revving engines, into account, as well as factors that might make the sound acceptable.

“It all boils down to the reasonableness of the noise,” Rapozo said.

He noted that some noises are to be expected, and as an example said that a homeowner near a softball field has no right to complain about a loud game taking place.

Rapozo previously said he believes it will be possible to get a comprehensive noise ordinance completed within the next 90 days if a majority of councilmembers work together on the issue, which would mean a new ordinance could potentially be on the books by December. But if the debate over the barking dog ordinance repeal is any indication, getting consensus could be tricky. Councilmember Arryl Kaneshiro, who voted in favor of repeal, already expressed hesitation about moving forward with something new.

“I’m not convinced we even need a comprehensive noise ordinance,” Kaneshiro said during the meeting. “I’m going to approach it very cautiously.”

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura was blunt in her assessment of the new discussion, criticizing it as being nothing more than a shield meant to provide political cover while the public is still paying attention to the issue.

“It’s a diversionary tactic to distract from the fact they don’t have a real replacement,” Yukimura said.

Yukimura, who previously argued that the council should amend rather than repeal the less than 2-year-old barking dog ordinance, told The Garden Island she expects any new noise ordinance that might eventually pass council to be so watered down as to be essentially meaningless.

While the new conversation is ongoing, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has not said yet whether he intends to sign or veto the barking dog ordinance repeal. Under the county charter, he has 10 business days to act, which would be next week.

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Ryan Kazmirzack, government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428.

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