Sharo Sanavi, principal for acoustical engineering firm ABC Acoustics, agrees. “There are some studies that show intermittent noise, such as dirt bikes, is more annoying than constant noise.
“The measurements might be under the limit,” he adds, “but they can still be considered nuisance noise because of the type of noise. Noise ordinances state that residents should enjoy their property.”
Shasta Gaughen is the Pala Band’s environmental director. She thinks that the neighbors may be exaggerating the noise level.
“In my opinion, the noise is very faint,” says Gaughen. “These folks moved into these rural neighborhoods where it is extremely quiet, so even a faint change in background noise is going to be noticeable.
“There might be some people that would hear the level of noise and say, ‘Come on, I live next to a freeway or train tracks.’ But when you’ve gone from silence to a buzzing background it can be annoying, and we certainly want to address that,” says Gaughen.
Gaughen disagrees that the tribe is not being compliant with local noise ordinances.
“People seem to hear the word ‘sovereign’ and think that [tribal members] can do whatever they want, but nothing could be further from the truth,” she says, during a phone interview. “We have to abide by all federal regulations. Obviously, we want to be good neighbors, and we don’t want to upset the people who live around us who expect the peace and quiet of rural life. But any contention by them that the tribe doesn’t have to follow the rules is not true.
“As the study indicates, the raceway is in compliance with local ordinances for noise levels. We want to do the right thing by our neighbors. We want to find the best and most efficient way to address the noise.
“The only way to completely solve the problem is to close down the raceway, and as far as I know at this point, that isn’t an option. There are some people who will not be satisfied unless the track is shut down.”
What’s the next step for nearby residents?
“Going to go get legal counsel,” says DiPietro. “They are creating an adversarial relationship with the community. We’ve tried to work with them, and they aren’t responding. There’s not much else we can do.”
Ryan Oullette declined to comment.