Obnoxious and noisy neighbors in Marana may soon find police plastering a red tag on their homes, but businesses will be exempt from a noise ordinance the town council is expected to consider implementing Nov. 18.
Patterned after a law that Tucson has used since 1996, Marana's "loud or unruly gathering ordinance" would allow police officers to place the violation sticker on homes where people are disturbing the peace.
Violations of the proposed ordinance would result in an escalating series of fines ranging from $500 for the first noise violation after the tag is placed, and up to $1,500 for a third violation.
The brightly colored tag would stay in place for at least 120 days. Removing, hiding or defacing it would result in a $100 fine, according to a draft copy of the ordinance obtained from the town.
"We've heard that Tucson has had a lot of success with their ordinance," said Marana Police Chief Richard Vidaurri. "It not only helped them with controlling noise, but with things like underage drinking and DUIs. And that's what we're looking at. It gives us another tool to help us do our job better."
Tucson Police Department spokesman Sgt. Marco Borboa said his agency has affixed hundreds of the tags on homes and businesses and found it to be an effective way of shutting down noise and out-of-control parties without police having to respond to repeated complaints.
"It's highly effective, and its effective primarily for the neighbors that are affected by these types of quality of life issues. It seems to make offenders think twice, whereas just a citation doesn't prohibit a repeat of the problem," Borboa said.
The impetus for the ordinance came from north Marana resident Frank Link, who complained repeatedly to Marana police about neighbors in the Valley of the Sun Mobile Home and RV Park, 13377 N. Sandario Road.
In an interview Oct. 7 before the "red tag" ordinance had been proposed, Link said he felt police weren't doing enough to control his neighbors, who he claimed were having loud parties that included underage drinking and gun fire.
Marana Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat said he and other town officials had spoken with Link several times.
"There had been several complaints over the years and each incident had to be handled on its own, whereas the red tag ordinance will allow us to look at the cumulative effects on a property owner. Mr. Link seems to be satisfied with the idea of an ordinance that will give us a little more discretion to deal with the problem," Reuwsaat said.
Link did not return calls requesting comment about the proposed ordinance.
Unlike Tucson, which applies the red tag law to both homes and businesses, Marana will use the tags only on residential complaints.
"The ordinance is modeled almost exactly after TPD's, the only difference is that ours is going to be geared toward residential complaints rather than residential and businesses. We want to make a distinction between the residential ordinance and a separate one for businesses," Vidaurri said.
Current Marana noise statutes directed at businesses only set standards for construction noise and music from specific resorts located north and west of the Continental Ranch subdivisions.
Marana's council considered a generalized noise ordinance for businesses in 2001 but never passed the measure.
The discussion two years ago was prompted by hundreds of citizen complaints about loud music from the now defunct New West/Gotham Nightclub, 4385 W. Ina Road, and Sportspark, 6901 N. Casa Grande Highway.
Marana's business community, primarily through the town's Business Advisory Committee, has opposed previous attempts to develop a town-wide noise ordinance for businesses.
Reuwsaat said the town may consider a broader noise ordinance that includes businesses sometime in the future.
"The reason the previous ideas of an ordinance (for business) died was because there were just too many things put together in trying to solve the problem. There wasn't enough attention paid to specific circumstances," Reuwsaat said. "I asked the (police) chief to make sure the new ordinance was primarily a residential ordinance. But we are going to look at noise as it relates to commercial areas in the future, but more along the lines of outdoor events and outdoor music and stuff. But that's something further up the line."
Borboa said Tucson has had great success using the red tag ordinance on businesses as well as homes, and he's seen the results first hand.
"I've personally applied it to businesses. Some were bars and it was as simple as asking them to close their front door so that neighbors couldn't hear the music. They refused to, so we posted it and it got the doors closed pretty quick," Borboa said. "The neighbors loved it."
The town council is expected to consider the ordinance at a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at Marana Town Hall, 13251 N. Lon Adams Road.