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Pala Tribe rebuts issue of raceway noise


Last updated 9/27/2012 at Noon

The Rainbow Community Planning Group has stated that the Pala Band of Mission Indians has responded to its latest written plea (Aug. 19) for help in regards to a noise issue coming from Pala Raceway that they say is disrupting peaceful living. Unfortunately it wasn’t the answer they were hoping to hear.

RCPG chairman Dennis Sanford said the group received a letter dated Aug. 29 from Pala Chairman Robert Smith, which essentially said noise from the raceway does not exceed legal limits and the Tribe would not require the operators of the raceway to take any further steps to reduce noise.

“We have no proof of the sound levels as their study results were not shared and we had no access [to them],” said Sanford. “County ordinances govern noise levels being emitted from various sources. We have been told by the Tribe that because they are a “sovereign nation” they can do whatever they want and are not subject to various laws and ordinances.”

Smith did state that the Tribe would “continue to encourage” the raceway operators to be proactive in identifying and implementing noise reduction strategies and targeting and removing obvious offenders.”

The owners/operators of the raceway, according to Smith’s letter are Kirk Chandler and Ryan Ouellette. Smith said back in a meeting the Tribe hosted in April of 2010, Ouellette agreed to begin “flagging” and removing riders whose vehicles were found to be producing sound in excess of 96 decibels and to conduct noise monitoring of the overall sound production at the raceway.

Sanford and his group question if that was ever done consistently.

“I do not know for certain, but I have been told that flagging was not done, but some periodic measuring of the noise was done,” said Sanford. “Tom Casey of Rainbow was instrumental in accomplishing some measurements, but nothing happened from the efforts.”

Smith also stated that many of the tracks at the raceway had been reconfigured “to reduce the amplification of sound towards Rainbow, and a sound wall was installed at the starting gate of the main track to reduce noise during racing events.”

“[The tracks] may have been reconfigured, but the noise levels were not impacted, only the ‘thrills’ were enhanced,” said Sanford.

In regards to taking any other measures to reduce noise emitting from the track, Smith said those measures would be “prohibitively expensive.”

“If requiring a rider to install a muffler is prohibitively expensive, then perhaps the rider should not be paying the entry fee, because the two are almost equal,” countered Sanford.

Members of the Rainbow Community Planning Group remain frustrated, Sanford said.

“The neighborly thing to do is try to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction,” said Sanford. “The Rainbow residents are not demanding ‘total quietness,’ but when the noise from a facility that is over two aerial miles away disrupts the enjoyment of one’s property, then you have a problem.”

“It has been our hope that the Pala Tribe would cooperate in a neighborly fashion so as to resolve the situation.”


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