Letter to the Editor: Resident Wishes Neighbor Would Communicate Directly Instead of Using Police

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Letter to the Editor:

MT

Driving through Burbank’s residential neighborhoods, it’s impossible not to notice the ubiquitous lawn signs announcing to passers by that “In this house, we believe…” or reminding us to “Choose Kindness”. One would be left with the impression that Burbank were indeed a city where all feel welcome.

On Monday morning, I woke up to a letter taped to my door from a neighbor who chose not to identify him/herself threatening to continue to call the police on me should I continue with activities and noise “uncharacteristic of the neighborhood”. This same neighbor also taped letters to other neighbors’ doors encouraging them to call the police if the “noise” were to continue (these other neighbors reached out to share this with me, as they are NOT bothered by the “noise” and didn’t appreciate the mini campaign and sowing of bad blood in an otherwise friendly neighborhood).

The “noise” in question was a small backyard BBQ late Sunday afternoon that carried on through the early evening. My household is made up of musicians and dancers, as is my small pod of folks who’ve only recently began to gather again safely outdoors per public health officials’ recommendations. On this particular Sunday, some of the best flamenco musicians in Los Angeles were together in a social setting for the first time since the pandemic began. Naturally, we wound up enjoying what brought us together as a community to begin with—MUSIC. Our small jam session included two acoustic guitars and one percussionist. We were ELATED to be sharing what we love most after so much time without it. It’s what gives us LIFE. That is, until the police came to break it up following a complaint from a neighbor.

At no point did this neighbor reach out to alert us that the noise was disturbing (which is highly subjective—other neighbors have shared how much they enjoyed it). Had this person come to have a conversation with me, perhaps we could have identified some kind of middle ground. However, he/she saw it fit to address the matter by involving the Burbank PD. This was the second time. On a separate occasion, this neighbor called the police when we surprised a family member celebrating a birthday following a year of loss and trauma by hiring a group of mariachis. They arrived at 6:00 pm on a Friday and played two sets (along with song requests from next door!), wrapping up while it was still light out.

BurCal Apartments8715

Having the police at my door for what to me is a perfectly normal way to celebrate on a weekend that was very much within the constraints of the city’s noise ordinance was shocking. The only time in my life I have called the police on a neighbor was when I feared for someone’s SAFETY. It would never occur to me that the police’s job is to ensure my own comfort—law enforcement’s job is to enforce THE LAW. But what’s most disturbing about this is how anybody in the year 2021 could disregard what we all know all too well now; inappropriately and unnecessarily involving police can lead to very bad outcomes—especially for POC (which most everyone at my small gathering was). I say shame on you for this.

I believe there is room both for my neighbor to enjoy peace and quiet and also for my household to enjoy what brings us happiness. Perhaps we compromise on the frequency, duration, and/or time frames for my preferred activities. But asking that others join in shutting down healthy and normal fun leaves me with the impression that this isn’t a person who can be negotiated with.

Burbank, if you truly want residents of all walks of life to feel welcome here, I encourage you to have a reasonable level of tolerance for their cultural expressions. And TALK to your neighbors before calling the police (no matter how different they are from you).

 

Jamie Padilla

27 COMMENTS

  1. Burbank, while a wonderful place to live, is not a place where all are welcome. If you spend any time on NextDoor, you know that, in Burbank, the first thing you should when something happens that you don’t agree with or seems out of the “norm”, is call the police, especially if it involves a neighbor. Sound like y’all were doing what everyone should have been doing for some time now. Continue to have fun and celebrate life.

  2. Jamie,

    While I in no way condone your neighbor’s actions, in Burbank, houses were constructed very close together in the past. This makes it difficult for those neighbors who might not want to hear your beloved music, or a party that lingers for hours on end.

    Your anonymous neighbor’s invitation to other neighborhood households to join in creating problems for you, or calling the police, is not surprising in that it’s a non-confrontational and passive aggressive resolution to their perceived problem. However, it’s not the right one.

    In the future, I suggest you alert the neighborhood to an upcoming music fest and allow for those who don’t want to be home at that time to make other arrangements. Don’t stop enjoying your music, family or friends, but be aware that some of your neighbors may not appreciate the serendipity of your gatherings, or their duration.

    We all must be considerate of each other, while living our lives to the fullest. I’ll be listening intently for the sounds of flamenco, or the Gypsy Kings, carried on the wind to welcoming ears and open hearts.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful response. I would be very amendable to compromising to accommodate my neighbor’s need for quiet time. This doesn’t strike me as a problem without resolution. However, by not only calling the police without first talking to me, but ALSO by encouraging others to do the same, the neighbor seems to be indicating compromise is not on the table. This person hasn’t even identified him or herself!

  3. What is awful is the cities disturbance of the peace law. There’s no guidelines it’s all up in a gray area and it’s very hard to do business in the city when neighbors are constantly calling the police and they’re bound and determined to shut down businesses that have any sort of noise.

    • Burbank indeed would not be a better place if we were to cater to our most uptight residents. And yeah…. there seems to be no shortage of them here haha.

  4. I wonder how many times the Burbank PD has shown up to a routine neighborhood noise complaint at the home of a “POC” and it “led to a very bad outcome?”

    Conversely, I’d be curious to know how many times Burbank PD officers showed up to the same call and treated the same “POC” with respect, fairness and dignity? Maybe even apologizing for coming out to begin with?

    Your concern and frustration with your neighbor is well placed. Your comments about the police are way off base.

    • The officers who’ve shown up at my home have been nothing but respectful, and have indeed even apologized. I was under the impression they didn’t like being in the situation any more than I did.

      The issue is over policing. Calling the police shouldn’t be anybody’s first step EVER in dealing with a minor nuisance (or differences best settled through conversation). And while I understand the policy at the department is to always respond to these calls, maybe there’s an approach that would dissuade residents from considering the police as their initial go-to. Honestly, it’s just bizarre to me. Let’s not normalize it.

      Thank you for your comment.

  5. Your neighbor’s actions does seem excessive if the events as described are accurate. Far more bothersome for me are two of my neighbors who let their dogs bark incessantly at all times of the day and night and another neighbor who has a batting cage in the backyard.

  6. While I am not the neighbor who wrote the notes, I do live close by to who did. While I realize that you are only trying to enjoy yourselves, I would like for those who read this to know that she is greatly understating the amount of noise that was made. Every Sunday for the past couple months, there has been clogging practice on a very loud wood stage in their backyard for most of the day. No neighbors called in any complaints because everyone is allowed to have their own activity that makes them happy, and we did not want to take that away from you. However, when your inconsiderate behavior began to continue into the nights as well is when everyone began to get annoyed. The mariachi incident was not only for a couple hours, they arrived some time around
    2:30-3 and played almost continuously until around 7:30-8. I understand wanting to make your side of the argument seem not at fault, but can you please give accurate descriptions of the events! Additionally, there have been at least FOUR, not two or one, but FOUR other incidents in recent memory that finally pushed that neighbor to call the police. All of those incidents were from playing your music too loud until at least 11 pm (that’s the time I decided to put in ear plugs and go to sleep) I would have been fine if you had done your little parties, if you had kept the music at a reasonable volume. And before you say that it wasn’t too loud, I live three doors away and I still heard it clearly through the walls without any open windows. Before I finish this reply, I would like to remind you that we did try to ask you to keep it down. We tried to yell over the wall “can you keep it down” then when we got frustrated after you either ignored us or did not hear us over the really loud music and we began saying “shut up”. Which I know sounds mean to tell your neighbor to do, however I believe that when you ask someone to turn down the music at 10:30, they should respect your right to some peace and quiet and at least turn it down a little! I do not want to call the police like that neighbor did, however if you keep up this blatant disrespect for the people who live around you and them proceed to make the people who ask you to please quiet down look like the bad guy, then I will have no choice but to join this neighbor in calling the police.

    • I’m sorry to learn this way of your annoyance. We all varying degrees of tolerance to noise and reasonable people can disagree as to what’s acceptable and/or “normal”. However, much of what you’ve described here is inaccurate. Four Sundays in April, my group practiced flamenco outside from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. That’s one hour. We’ve since discontinued now that dance studios have reopened, but I gladly would have done that sooner had anybody alerted me to their concerns. And while I would have loved to have had several hours or live mariachi, we actually only had them from 6:00 to 8:00 (and they took a 30 minute break in that window).

      From my perspective, I was being courteous by ensuring any noisier activities here were taking place on weekends and early. In most places in Los Angeles, that would be more than enough. If that’s pushing the bar too far for MY neighbors, though, I very much welcome an open and respectful conversation about that.

  7. As the neighbor who wrote the note let me reiterate what I said in the note. This isn’t a one time problem. You have repeatedly made a lot of noise. There were four Sundays in a row that you had some kind of stomping or dancing that was so loud closing all of our windows and doors was not enough to find relief from the noise. Then you had a mariachi concert a couple weeks ago in your backyard and a loud party afterward. Again, closing the windows and doors was not enough to escape the noise. THEN, last weekend you had another really loud party and then the flamenco jam as you mentioned. That’s at least 6 different times you were being incredibly loud. This has nothing to do with your culture or anything else other than you don’t seem to understand how loud your activities are how sound travels outside. As I said in the note, if this was a once in a while thing no one would mind. But as I also said in the note, it’s starting to become a pattern. I have spoken with a number of neighbors and I can tell you they don’t like it either. One neighbor, who is taking care of her sick, elderly father told me the poor guy kept waking up from all the noise and she was had a terrible time trying to get him back to sleep. Two other neighbors told me they had really had enough as well. So, you’re right in that compromise isn’t an option here. Not because your neighbors are unreasonable but because you have consistently been an incredibly loud and insensitive neighbor on a nearly weekly basis with your loud, live music and whatever that stomping stuff was. If you can keep the parties and loudness to a once in a while thing, instead of a weekly thing, then probably we’ll just deal with it. But, as I’ve said, it’s been frequent. It’s been regular. And it’s been LOUD. Trying to gain the sympathies of our fellow Burbank folk by twisting the truth about how loud your activities are is simply disingenuous. I have nothing against you personally. I’m sure you’re a very nice person as I try to be as well. That said, you had numerous loud activities before I bothered to say anything. I kept hoping it would pass and that would be the end of it. But so far, that hasn’t been the case. You clearly have no idea how loud you are….well it’s loud…really, really loud. If it wasn’t so loud I wouldn’t have written you the note. So please, pretty please, with sugar on top…turn it DOWN. That seems to me to be the compromise. Just turn it down…way down. Then you won’t get any notes. And your neighbors won’t have to call the police. Another thought is if you want to make that much noise go rent a room or a rehearsal space and make all the noise you want. I think pretending your little Burbank backyard is the Hollywood bowl is not being a good neighbor. So, again, please….pretty please….turn it down. No one else in the neighborhood has ever made so much noise, so often, and I’ve lived here 18 years. If you’re looking for rationality and dialogue it needs to start with YOU realizing what your doing isn’t cool. You are treating your neighbors with no regard or respect and you leave us little recourse other than to call Burbank PD. Something, no one wants to do….but you really give us little choice.

    • Hello neighbor,

      Please know you are welcome to knock on my door and speak your concerns to me directly. I understand how from your perspective, it feels like there’s been a pattern of increasingly frequent noisy activity. There are actually reasons why there were two gatherings with live music only weeks apart. And as you’ve noted, the loud stomping on Sundays was awhile back and has since stopped. This is because dance studios have finally reopened. You’re right, I didn’t realize it was as bothersome to you as you’ve indicated. So… you could have just told me that and I would’ve discontinued the Sunday practice even sooner.

      I disagree you had no choice other than to call the police. Had you simply spoken to me, I could have let you know the occasion in which we had mariachi was on the heels of a devastating loss. And the small jam session was a goodbye gathering for a dear friend. Perhaps that would’ve eased your concerns and given me the opportunity to assure you that level of noise wouldn’t be a regular thing. That doesn’t mean never, however. I think an occasional jam session at a reasonable hour on a weekend should be acceptable. There was literally ONE percussionist on CONGAS (it’s not like it was electric guitars and a drum set). And it was early. It’s unclear to me if this would’ve been acceptable to you had you not already been annoyed by the mariachis and the flamenco practice.

      I’ve never had anybody call the police on me. It seems very extreme to me and apparently normal and reasonable to you. It’s not something I’d ever even consider doing. I believe law enforcement’s job should be to enforce the law. And we were breaking none.

      While I would LOVE to pretend like my backyard is the Hollywood Bowl, rest assured that won’t be the case.

      • Dear Jamie,

        If you are quieter, more often, that would be a neighborly thing for you to do. I’m not sure that justifying all these events (a devastating loss or a goodbye to a friend) helps to improve relations with your neighbors. While it gives a little context, lots of people endure those things without filling the neighborhood with excessive noise. If you chose to give a little bit of thought to how sound travels outside and were a little more self-aware about how truly loud you really were, there wouldn’t have been any issues with your neighbors. I don’t want to belabor this discussion any more than necessary. That said, if you want to have a dialogue and you’d prefer that I don’t call the police again, then please hear me out.

        I’m not an unreasonable person, despite your comments to the contrary. I’m willing to deal with a reasonable amount of noise anytime and even the occasional unreasonable amount of noise as long as it’s a once in a while thing and it’s not really late into the night. For the record, I appreciate that for the most part you don’t go too late into the night. Though I have been woken up by the occasional cackle from one of your parties as late as 1:00, I have noticed that it’s not a regular thing and I think all your neighbors appreciate that. I am, however, going to have to disagree with you entirely in your assertion that an occasional jam session outside is acceptable. When you do that, you go from simply unreasonable levels of noise (but tolerable for short periods) to outrageous levels of noise. The sound travels in ways that perhaps you are unaware. Despite your assertions that you haven’t had a drummer or electric guitars, the volume you guys were at was inescapable. Meaning, closing the doors and windows, turning on the TV and going to the front of my house as far away from my backyard as possible was not enough to escape the noise. You clearly don’t know or understand how the sound travels and how close together our houses are. Keep in mind that the sound is highly directional so one neighbor may be getting less volume than another and perhaps I’m just in the bullseye zone where it’s stupid loud. It seems to me if you want to have an occasional jam session, the burden is on YOU to somehow tame the noise and keep it in check. It’s not your neighbor’s responsibility to just roll over and deal with it. Not when it’s that loud, at least.

        It might surprise to you know that I, too, am a musician. It’s how I make my living. I, too, have a lot of musician friends. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever consider inviting them over to jam in my backyard. Why? Because I have enough self-awareness and respect and regard for my neighbors to know that my backyard IS NOT the right place for a jam session. I know how sound travels. I know how loud even acoustic instruments can be and I would never feel it’s right for me to put my neighbors through that onslaught. None of my musician friends have ever had a jam session in any of their backyards either. So, what do we do when we want to jam….??? Well, we go to a studio. Or we go rent a rehearsal space. Or we go somewhere where we’re not in the middle of the block, like a big park or some other open space, and we make the noise we want to make in an area well suited for the noise. So, if YOU want to have a jam session, I’d suggest this to you. Clear out your garage, add some sound proofing and have your jam session in there, with the garage door closed. Or perhaps, invite everyone inside your house, close your doors and windows and have at it. That will contain the sound and prevent you from becoming the neighborhood nuisance.

        I also want to let you know that at this point I have spoken directly to 3 other households. Each one of them has been just as disturbed by the noise as I have been. So, I am not alone in my frustration with the noise. Further, I wasn’t the only one who called the police. At least one additional neighbor did so as well. So, including myself, that’s 4 of your neighbors who have really had enough of the noise. I’m really hoping that your assertion that going forward, this level of noise won’t be a regular thing proves true. That would go a long way in repairing some of the ill will felt by the neighbors I have spoken with.

        Regarding the involvement of the police, the through line of all your posts has been how ridiculous that seems to you. I hear you, but I don’t share your feelings. Burbank has a special number for noise complaints, so clearly, we are far from the first to use it. Yes, I agree it’s far from ideal, however, it’s quite common to call the police for noise problems. Up to this point, I really thought you had to be a psychotic, crazy person to think that the kind of noise you have been making is acceptable. So, I did not feel comfortable approaching you. I can see at this point that clearly, you’re a rational person, certainly well spoken, and approachable. That said, I really don’t think you have a handle on how incredibly loud some of your backyard activities have been. Regardless, I will give my best efforts to not involve the police if you can do the same and give your best efforts to keeping the noise in check.

        I’m not a social media person or generally comfortable with this kind of public outing of dirty laundry…so this is the last I’ll have to say on this publicly. I hear what you’re saying about the police. I hope you can take to heart what I’m saying about the noise.

        Thanks.

  8. I have lived here since 1991 and in candor, neighbor parties often go late into the night. No call, no text, no warning, no courtesy flyer, nothing. For the many of us working from home, this also poses many other issues. I choose to do my screen capture (with audio) at night because commercial jets stop, yet there are neighbors pulling up in cars with music blasting and playing their music well past even sleepy time. I have never called the police.

    It’s pretty rude to hold a large, unannounced party next door if you have not asked the neighbor if they would give permission (indeed if you go late into the night, this is not only polite, but legally appropriate if you don’t want trouble.)

    And before you dial 911, remember the police are the most expensive aspect of the City’s budget. If you don’t want to see taxes keep going up, I would strongly encourage you to only dial when you feel your life is in peril or a serious crime is occurring.

    As to Bob’s comments…”They are not a symbol of tolerance, but merely a way for upper-class whites to signal to each other that they are in a “white neighborhood.”

    Nothing is farther from the truth. Bob should take the time to review who actually lives in Burbank (I did). 17 different languages are spoken by the persons registered to vote in Burbank. Every home on this street is purportedly worth more than $1 million now and the shades of our neighbors are quite diverse. Bob is perpetuating the seemingly invincible fallacy relating to skin tone. Don’t drink his Kool-Aid.

  9. Also-I’ve never called 911. There is a Burbank pd noise complaint line. It’s 818-238-3000. I never considered this an “emergency” and fortunately Burbank pd is smart enough to have a non emergency noise complaint line. If you have a Jamie Padilla in your midst who doesn’t know how loud she and her cohorts are, decides to twist the facts on a local website and adds a little race baiting while they’re at it. I urge you to take advantage of this number and call as well. As I said in my note to this person, no one minds a party once in awhile. But-you make that kind of noise every week for 6 or 7 weeks… that just ain’t cool. Have fun. Enjoy your friends. Yes the pandemic sucks. But how about minding the volume. That’s the only thing I take issue with. Please…again…pretty please…with sugar on top…keep the volume in check. If I can hear it through my walls with all the windows and doors closed….personally … I think you’ve crossed the line. If you choose to disagree, so be it. It ain’t personal. Thank you.

  10. Just knock on the door and ask them to keep it down. Jesus. Seems simple enough. Maybe they’ll even invite you over so you don’t have to spend the evening watching jeopardy or something.

  11. If you want to Jam Burbank has great parks. Some people work night shift and sleep during the day. If you are different than your neighbor stop the bs about race. Burbank has the best police dept. You can always relocate out of Burbank.

  12. Yes, Burbank is the safest city in LA and the Police are great. Wasting their time on this kind of issue concerns me, the comment on the high costs brings up a good point. It seems the police are so abused this way, but be considerate of your neighbors! Those amps can be ear splitting! And truthfully, I detest mariachinoise (and that isn’t a racist remark!) I was attached hearing that music and you can’t imagine the fear it evokes! Have fun, but be mindful of those who work at home, sleep during the day, and pay a lot to live in a peaceful community. Can we all just get along?

  13. MH, I am of East Indian heritage. I am 100% American. My ears hurt the same as anyone else when it comes to loud parties that go into the night. It does happen. I put up with it, but being upset has nothing to do with skin tone. That was an odd comment. Agenda? Why post something like that I wonder.

  14. I do think it’s important to be considerate of neighbors. And to assume that by being loud at what I think of as reasonable hours for noise is tantamount to being rude and lacking self awareness is to suggest that normal = quiet. But get out of Burbank and you’ll see that’s not at all the case. In MY mind, I WAS being considerate (by limiting my louder activities to weekends and by not going late into the night). I didn’t think that was problematic simply because this is what we’ve always done and it’s NEVER been a problem until we decided to do it HERE. We do this in Glendale (right down the street). North Hollywood (right down the street). And in Altadena (like 15 minutes away). So no… it didn’t cross my mind that this was crazy or outrageous or all these other things some folks around me think it is. My best friend’s neighbor regularly has live BANDA at their weekend parties! I say this only to highlight that our concept of “normal” vary and are culturally and contextually specific. For most of my folks, the notion that you shouldn’t make noise on a WEEKEND is what’s crazy. Not all my neighbors consider me to be thoughtless. Some of us pass plates of food to each other across our fences and our kids play together.

    To suggest this is purely objective is to deny how our different cultures and backgrounds impact how we perceive these things. Sure we should try and attune ourselves to our environments to a degree and be aware of who is around us. But… I thought I was doing that. And it’s not MY fault that I turned out to be wrong when nobody TALKED TO ME but rather resorted to CALLING THE COPS.

  15. Us Latinos have big families and lots of celebrations. It’s very common to have mariachi, a trío, or the occasional DJ in your backyard gathering. Nobody in my culture would consider that “outrageous” and nobody would call the police for that. It sounds like this household is trying to be thoughtful by not letting this go on late at night. In other parts of the Los Angeles area, you’d hear even louder music until all hours of the night. I think calling the cops on this family for doing what is normal in many cultures is a form of bullying.

  16. I was present on both occasions this neighbor called the cops. The first time, the officers arrived around 9:00 pm to find 4 tired women sitting on the living room sofa with toddlers in their laps and a small group of guys talking at a normal volume level outside. In all seriousness, they seemed embarrassed to be interrupting and one even apologized. The next time they showed up, it was also super early. Probably like 8:00 pm. There were maybe 10 or so people gathered. These are not raging parties by any normal person’s definition. This neighbor is out of line. Everybody there thought it was laughable that police even showed up for such a stupid thing. Most of the cops were cool. One, not so much. But I guess there always has to be that one. It sucked because it was such a happy good vibes kind of gathering. What kind of a person calls the cops on that?

  17. What’s unfortunate is that now your household has been labeled and that will be hard to undo. Sounds like you don’t deserve it. I see no reason this could not have been handled the old fashioned way, by neighbors talking to each other.

  18. So many comments… That are clearly non informed and have little context (meaning you don’t live near by). I don’t really want to keep this post going forward. I wish it was dead. That said. One important factor in all of this is Jamie says “I haven’t broken any laws”. That’s not factually true. The Burbank noise ordinance says pretty specifically the following. If you increase the volume 5db over the 55 db baseline for residential neighborhoods you are breaking the Burbank noise municipal code. That’s for daytime not even the evening which is 10 db less. Here’s the pertinent info from the noise ordinance.

    9-3-213: RADIOS, TELEVISION SETS AND SIMILAR DEVICES:
    A. Disturbing Residents: No person shall use or operate any radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, television set or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such manner as to disturb the peace, quiet, and comfort of neighboring residents or any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area.
    B. Prima Facie Violation: Any noise causing the ambient noise level to be exceeded by more than five (5) decibels shall be deemed to be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section. Noise measurements shall be taken within any adjoining apartment if the radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, television set or other machine or device is in an apartment house, condominium or other multiple dwelling. [Formerly Numbered Section 21-36; Renumbered by Ord.
    The Burbank Municipal Code is current through Ordinance 16-3,878, passed May 10, 2016.

    Let me assure you that if I close all my windows and doors, turn on the tv and move to the front of my house to escape the noise…you are way, way way beyond the 60 db to be in violation of the noise statute. That said, I’d say most people, me included, would be willing to deal with noise well above this 60 db threshold. Frankly, I haven’t measured but any idiot with an Apple Watch can do it. Point is, regardless of how some would have wished me and my neighbors had dealt with this, the noise was excessive by standards dictated by the city. Not just by us. That is just factual info I feel is important to add to this thread of comments. It doesn’t change the fact that I said if Jamie takes steps to contain the noise we will try and address any interactions going forward directly, without involving the police.

    The entire noise ordinance is available here should u want to check it out.

    https://www.nonoise.org/lawlib/cities/ordinances/Burbank,%20California.pdf

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