Central Coast

Dear Jon: Dealing with early morning helicopter noise over Ag fields

Curbing normal Ag operations may prove difficult

Living near Ag fields poses several issues for residents on the Central Coast, noise is just one of them. But there's no doubt that noise can be a real issue if you're trying to sleep. Ilse in Salinas writes, "Dear Jon, I'd like to know if there are any laws that can stop farms around here from getting us up at 4 a-m to wake us up?"

Ironically the very day this question came up, I had an early morning helicopter fly over my home at 3:30 a.m. and wake me up. This is the very issue that Ilse was concerned about. But a couple of things bear on this answer according the Ag Commissioner's office, they're the agency that mediates noise issues between the farmers and residents nearby.

Deputy Ag Commissioner Bob Roach says this issue falls under the county environmental ordinance.

First of all, Roach says, "Salinas is considered an Ag community and Monterey County is a 'right to farm' county. That means farmers and ranchers have the right to conduct operations under standard operating procedures."

That being said, farmers have a right to spray their fields when they see fit.

Any substance that's sprayed in Ag fields must have a permit to do so from the Ag Commissioner's office. So the Ag Commissioner's office knows about these spraying operations that are being conducted. Roach says farmers usually spray in the early mornings due to less workers in the field and less wind.  Both of these things mitigate exposure to pesticides.

But farmers want to be good neighbors too.    

So if noise around your home from Ag related operations has become a problem for you, Roach recommends following county guidelines under the 'Title 16 Environmental Code' for settling grievances. You can find this ordinance on the Monterey County website or copy this URL into your browser: https://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=16111

Under that process, neighbors can submit a formal grievance about any issue of concern with his office, not just noise. And the first step according to Roach, is to get neighbors and the grower talking about solutions. Roach says there's strength in numbers so the more of your neighbors that you can bring to bear on the issue the better.

But remember, Salinas is an Ag community and if you live here, expect noises from Ag operations that are considered normal.

If you'd like to email me a question send it to DearJon@KIONRightNow. com.  I'm also on Facebook, search for 'Jon K Brent KION.' And find me on Twitter, '@DearJonKBrent'

I'd also like to invite you to watch News Channel 5 at 10 pm on the CW. We're the only live-local prime time newscast on the Central Coast. Find it on Comcast 13, Charter 14 and Suddenlink 4. And of course over-the-air on 46.2. If you'd like to see this newscast on your satellite provider or U-Verse, call them and tell them you want local news at 10p on the Monterey/Salinas/Santa Cruz local CW affiliate.

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