Mendez v. Rancho Valencia Resort Partners, LLC

Judgment for defendant in a private nuisance action was affirmed as substantial evidence supported the trial court’s findings that the noise from defendants’ resort was not unreasonable nor was the injury to the plaintiff substantial, even if the noise violated the county noise ordinance.  The decision affirms a judgment for defendant after a bench trial on plaintiff’s private nuisance claim for a permanent injunction based on noise emanating from defendant resort’s outdoor activities.  Emphasizing its deference to the trial court’s fact findings that the noise was not unreasonable nor the injury substantial, the appellate court also held that the fact that the resort violated a county zoning ordinance by using public announcement systems that allowed words to be understood outside the boundaries of the resort did not establish, as a matter of law, that the noise was a private nuisance, nor did the zoning ordinance permit private enforcement.  Similarly, plaintiff could not show that the resort violated the county noise ordinance which prohibited operating sound reproduction systems at such volume they could be heard 50 feet away from the structure in which they were located.  The court interpreted the ordinance to apply only to sound devices within an enclosed structure, not open-air speakers such as defendant used.  And anyway, violation of this portion of the noise ordinance was only prima facie evidence of a public nuisance, and here, the trial court had found, after considering appropriate factors, that the noise was not so unreasonable or such a substantial impairment of the plaintiff’s rights as to constitute a private nuisance.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (Aaron, J.); August 26, 2016 (published September 13, 2016); 2016 WL 4771043

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