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Noise and Amplified Sound

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Stanford is both an academic and residential community in Santa Clara County. It's everyone's responsibility to be good colleagues and neighbors, and moderate the noise generated by our events. We also need to stay in compliance with Santa Clara County's noise ordinance. Below, you'll find more information on the law, along with tips on moderating noise levels and resources for all community members.

Disruptive noise in or around a residence or other campus buildings that infringes on the public health, welfare, or safety of other residents or members of the university community is considered a violation of this policy, especially during an event or activity held on campus. In some instances this is considered a public nuisance and a violation of county law. It is the responsibility of all faculty, students, staff, alumni, and university community members to moderate noise from events.

Santa Clara County’s Noise Ordinance

According to Santa Clara County's Noise Ordinance, no residential space may generate sound that causes the noise level, when measured on any other property, to exceed 45-55 decibels from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. (See Table B11-152 in the county ordinance for land use categories and their noise levels).

What this means is: 

  • All amplified sound with any device for the amplification of the human voice, music, or any other sound must be coordinated with approval of the appropriate administrative offices listed below under Event Organizer’s Resource Information.
  • All event-related sound must be significantly curtailed by 10 p.m. daily in accordance with the Santa Clara County Noise Ordinance. 

Additionally, to support the university’s educational, research and business activities, amplified sound is not allowed during weekdays at gatherings in outdoor areas that could disturb classes, residences, or university business.

California Penal Code and Santa Clara County ordinances related to disruption of the peace and noise supersede university policy. Other limitations and modifications to this policy may be made at the discretion of the University Administration. Events that generate noise not in compliance with this policy and Santa Clara County Ordinance are subject to being shut down by University personnel and/or law enforcement.

Guidance for Managing Noise

Here are some measures to reduce amplified noise impacts from your event:

  • Keep windows and doors closed when possible.
  • When sponsoring indoor events, only open windows and doors that face away from neighbors (who are likely to be disturbed).
  • When sponsoring outdoor events in tents and other locations, ensure speakers are facing away from residences, classrooms, libraries, and other areas where students are living and studying.
  • Place speakers at ground level.  Raised speakers make music travel farther. 
  • Avoid using bass speakers, which can make windows rattle and carry sound. Turn bass levels down.  
  • Have your speakers facing into the room instead of facing towards windows or doors.
  • Communicate with neighbors in advance of your event. Ideally, neighbors should be notified at least 7-10 days in advance about potentially noisy events and parties. This can be done with a flyer in a mailbox that includes event details and the name and cell phone number of the event contact person who can be reached during the event.
  • Have a plan for after 10:00 p.m. on how to curtail noise, and be prepared to reduce and/or stop the sound if noise complaints are made. For events near residential neighborhoods please send a copy of your flyer to Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders through Cynthea Kingsley, executive director,

Resources for Event Organizers

For departments, schools, and institutes, please contact the Office of Special Events & Protocol.

For student groups, please access support through any of the following resources:

For Special Events, such as large events on campus with an estimated attendance over 10,000, or construction activity, see additional information about Special Event Noise and Traffic Management

Resources for Neighbors

As a neighbor of Stanford, you are welcome to opt-in to receive notifications with information about scheduled events across campus. Below is a list of campus departments and points of contact who may have listservs to which you can request to be added:

  • Parties listserv - includes neighborhood, undergraduate, and graduate events with amplified sound
  • Athletics  - provides an overview for when athletic events will be taking place at Stanford

The Stanford noise hotline (650) 724-4900 is available should you need to report a noise based concern.

The information on this website is meant as a general overview. Please be sure to read and understand the full policy documents for all of the policies that may apply to your event. Please also be sure to check for important announcements and updates that may impact events on campus. If you have questions, please contact us