Mendez v. Rancho Valencia Resort Partners, LLC

Facts: An owner purchases a residential property neighboring a large resort where public outdoor events are periodically held and amplified sound is used. The owner is disturbed by sounds emanating from the neighbor’s property. The neighbor renovates the outdoor space to mitigate the dispersion of noise, bringing the volume to a decibel level lower than the noise threshold set by the local noise ordinance. However, minimal sound from events is still audible to the owner.

Claim: The owner seeks a permanent injunction preventing the neighbor from using outdoor sound amplification systems, claiming the sound produced by the neighbor’s events constitutes a private nuisance in violation of the local noise ordinance since the sound interferes with the owner’s quiet enjoyment of their property.

Counter claim: The neighbor claims they are not in violation of the local noise ordinance and the owner cannot obtain a permanent injunction since the noise generated by the periodic outdoor events does not rise to the level that creates a private nuisance warranting issuance of an injunction.

Holding: A California court of appeals holds the local ordinance does not give the owner a private cause of action to enjoin noise emanating from the neighbor’s outdoor events since, though the noise was minimally audible to the owner, it was not unreasonably excessive under the meaning of the ordinance and does not constitute a private nuisance. [Mendez v. Rancho Valencia Resort Partners, LLC (August 26, 2016)_CA4th_]

Editor’s note — The owner chose not to pursue other avenues for resolving the dispute with the neighbor before seeking an injunction. The owner abandoned attempts to obtain relief through available local administrative procedures, and similarly declined to join with other neighboring homeowners to informally negotiate with the neighbor. Instead, the owner sought extreme judicial intervention in the form of an injunction.

Further, the court made a specific finding that the owner “is more sensitive than most,” and that the owner “is not the ‘person of normal sensitivity’” referred to in the local ordinance.

See Legal Aspects of Real Estate Chapter 12: Nuisance: offensive, unhealthful or obstructive.

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