Commercial contractors must refrain from work in Gearhart on Sundays. A new ordinance aims to provide residents a day of rest from a city with a growth spurt.
Measure proponents Bebe Michel and Eric Halperin said they recognized that houses need to be built and repaired and gardens need to be maintained. “We understand construction companies and landscaping companies have a job to do and need to be able to make a living,” they wrote. “But companies should also understand the needs of the people in the community. We think it’s important and fair that residents have one day a week of peace and quiet in their homes.”
The passage comes over objections of contractors who have said the ban would cripple operations and hurts their ability to serve customers.
In an August public hearing, Tim Mancill, of Mancill Lawn and Landscaping, said sentiment was overwhelmingly against the ordinance. “That should tell the council what the majority of people want. I think if it was on the ballot banning Sundays the ordinance would be voted down in a landslide.”
Calling the current noise ordinance more restrictive than other communities “but workable,” Mancill asked councilors to reject the ordinance.
A 2014 update to the code limited contractors’ daily hours of operation, but fell short of limiting weekend work. The code allows construction and landscape work between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Landscaping is permitted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The new rules won’t apply to homeowners working on their properties. Other exemptions come for city repairs, Gearhart golf course maintenance and emergency repairs like roof or major storm damage. In the case of non-emergencies, the city administrator may issue a permit for five working days. The permit may be revoked if complaints arise by working outside of the permit parameters.
Police will have enforcement responsibility, with fines of up to $500 for each violation. Each day a violation occurs or continues constitutes a separate offense.
Overall public comment at last Tuesday’s special City Council meeting showed support for the new rule. “I believe that every citizen of Gearhart is entitled to have at least one day off a week to enjoy quiet, family and friends,” Sheila Nolan said. “The proposed ordinance is for one day, one day only: Sunday.”
Having some time to enjoy the community while carefully growing the community is a balancing act, resident Rob Murphy said. “But I would support the fact that there is time where we can enjoy the community during this growth spurt that the community’s experiencing.”
Mayor Paulina Cockrum and councilors Reita Fackerell and Brent Warren voted for the ordinance. Dan Jesse voted against; Kerry Smith recused himself.
“The initial request was for Saturday, Sundays and holidays, so this is a significantly scaled back request,” Warren said. “So it is a good compromise. I know nobody is really super happy with it, but it is a compromise and that’s what society is about — finding reasonable compromise.”
Mancill plans to pursue a court challenge to the new ordinance. He said the issue was driven by about 20 homeowners, most of whom don’t live in Gearhart full time. Contractors were never notified of the meetings, he said, even though they had Gearhart business licenses.
He believes the process wasn’t transparent, and may have violated state laws. “We’re not going to just lay down and crawl over,” Mancill said after the meeting.