Despite passing a new noise ordinance that increases the allowable decibels by 5 during the evening hours, the City Council's Tuesday night decision faced strong opposition from downtown bar and entertainment venue owners.

Despite passing a new noise ordinance that increases the allowable decibels by 5 during the evening hours, the City Council's Tuesday night decision faced strong opposition from downtown bar and entertainment venue owners.

City passes revised noise ordinance



Steamboat Springs noise ordinance changes

— The Steamboat Springs City Council, by a 5-2 vote, gave final approval to a revised noise ordinance Tuesday that limits allowable nighttime noise in commercial districts to 60 decibels.

The action capped months of discussion about how the city should address complaints from downtown residential property owners that nighttime noise coming from bars and entertainment venues is sometimes too loud. Some business owners said Tuesday that it will be difficult for them to comply with the revised ordinance.

City Council members Walter Magill and Kenny Reisman opposed the ordinance. They cited their desire for higher decibel levels based on a sampling of readings taking at local establishments that indicated they often weren’t in compliance.

The revised ordinance actually increases by 5 decibels the allowable noise during nighttime hours, which are now defined as between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. It also measures the noise from the property line of the complainant. The previous ordinance measured the noise at a point 25 feet from the property line of the source of the noise.

The changes impact only those areas of the city defined as commercial zones

Ghost Ranch Saloon co-owner Amy Garris implored the City Council to consider a proposal she submitted that added an “entertainment overlay zone,” which would make the allowable noise levels from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. up to 70 decibels in downtown, Ski Time Square and Gondola Square.

She, other business owners and ordinance opponents said they likely would be in violation of the revised ordinance if allowable noise was capped at 60 decibels.

A survey by the city indicates that 60 decibels of allowable nighttime noise meets or exceeds what is allowed in resort towns including Vail, Aspen and Telluride.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski acknowledged that many noise conflicts were likely the result of Steamboat becoming more of a mixed-use community. But she reminded the audience that the City Council had been working to revise the noise ordinance because residents and businesses in mixed-use areas approached the city about it.

Four residents, including two who live at Howelsen Place across the street from Ghost Ranch Saloon, supported the ordinance.

Violating the new allowable noise level will now result in a warning for the first violation, a $250 fine for the second, $500 fine for the third and $999 for the fourth and subsequent violations. A business found to be in violation of the noise ordinance cannot be cited more than once in an eight-hour period. A municipal court judge could forgive assessed fines if the funds were used to fix a noise-related issue.

Hermacinski said she was comfortable with the 60-decibel level after city staff measured noise levels outside the front of the 100-year-old building that houses Old Town Pub on Fat Tuesday as a live band played inside.

“And they were under the current 55 (decibel) level,” she said. “They have a vestibule, windows and doors were closed, but they met the existing ordinance.”

In other action, the City Council:

• Approved on first reading with no discussion a lease agreement with SmartWool that keeps the merino wool outfitter in town until 2022 and allows it to expand the terminal building at Steamboat Springs Airport.

• Approved on second reading a non-cigarette tobacco retailers license, which requires that retailers pay an annual fee to sell tobacco products other than cigarettes.

• Approved on second reading an ordinance to extend the commercial rafting season.

• Approved a resolution ratifying the intergovernmental agreement with Routt County to hold a municipal election Nov. 1.

• Recognized Tim and Scott Borden and other volunteers for their work putting on the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show.


Brian Smith 5 years, 9 months ago

It was pretty apparent that something odd is going on here behind the scenes. Despite 85% of the emails shown in the agenda item handed out by council indicating opposition to this ordinance and at least 80% of the audience in attendance opposing this ordinance, it passes with a 5-2 vote. I wonder how Carl's bar in HP is going to keep under 65db's when they have 40 people out on the deck?


Candice Martin 5 years, 9 months ago

What! Lets find a reason to take money away from local business people & send drunk people out in their cars looking for entertainment out side of town :P.......Lame


freerider 5 years, 9 months ago


1) Ski Town USA 2) Bike Town USA 3) Pot Town USA 4) Cops with DB meters USA


cindy constantine 5 years, 9 months ago

TALK ABOUT GIVING AN UNFAIR TRADE ADVANTAGE!!! The folks in HP complain about noise at the Ghost Ranch so Ghost Ranch is penalized. However the "noise" is just as loud at Tap House or OTP but no one lives quite as close so they get a pass. Once again, shame on you council. Why don't we just raise the sales tax instead of letting legitimate nighttime entertainment do what they do best --- PROVIDE NIGHTTIME ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE LOCALS AND GUESTS!! Once again what a disconnect!!


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 9 months ago

Hell, let's just ban the freakin' coal trains. A huge blast of gas in the middle of the night that resurrects you from a near-death experience is OK?

Does anyone, anymore bother to perform due diligence before they purchase a property?


exduffer 5 years, 9 months ago

Due diligence = my lawyer can beat up your lawyer


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 9 months ago

FormerGolfer, excellent retort. I thought that I was clinically cynical but you take the cake.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.