Which Holidays Give Us a Break from Construction?

Federal holidays should bring that rarest of qualities to our multifamily neighborhoods: peace & quiet on a weekday. Day in and day out we are assaulted by traffic, leaf blowers, and the nerve-fraying sounds of demolition, remodeling and construction next door. Holidays should be different. On days when city hall is closed, parking restrictions are suspended and our streets are pleasantly quiet we should expect a break. Yet the city allows construction to proceed. What’s the story?

Update City Council has expanded the range of holidays during which permit-authorized construction may not proceed. Find the full recap in our update: Holiday Construction is a No-No in Beverly Hills.

Presidents Day is one of those city holidays where all is quiet until a dirt-hauling semi truck barrels down the street at 8 a.m. Where the birds sing until the major remodeling project a few feet across the side yard kicks into gear. Presidents Day is a federal holiday just like Thanksgiving and New Year’s yet construction in Beverly Hills proceeds apace.

Multifamily areas are especially affected by construction impacts because lots are relatively small and apartment living puts us in close proximity to our neighbors. It seems like there is always some work underway. We have no front yard or greenery to blunt the grating sounds of construction.

That goes double on a holiday. They should be a respite. But as we found in digging into the Municipal Code, not all holidays mean a moratorium on construction or remodeling. From B.H.M.C. section 5–1–205(A):

No person shall engage in construction, maintenance or repair work which requires a city permit between the hours of six o’clock (6:00) P.M. and eight o’clock (8:00) A.M. of any day, or at any time on a Sunday or public holiday unless such person has been issued an after hours construction permit…For the purpose of this section, “public holiday” shall mean:
1. New Year’s Day.
2. Memorial Day.
3. Independence Day.
4. Labor Day.
5. Thanksgiving Day.
6. Christmas Day.

That short list leaves out a few federal holidays (and one local ‘public holiday’) where construction is allowed to proceed:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Day After Thanksgiving

On these holidays city hall closes, parking restrictions are suspended and most city services take a hiatus. But not construction. On a day where we would expect to call BHPD’s non-emergency number (310–550–4951) to report holiday construction, there is nothing the authorities can do about lawfully-permitted construction on holidays when it is allowed.

We propose that the city’s ‘public holidays’ as enumerated in the Municipal Code are aligned with the schedule of designated federal holidays as recognized by local governments. It’s not complicated: we need only add the three federal holidays and one local ‘public holiday’ to the days when construction is restricted.

Should work be prohibited on all federal and local holidays, we will have somebody to call when bang-bang, rip-rip, and the sound of buzzsaws disturb our reflection upon a fallen national hero on MLK day, say. We could put an end to construction when a dirt-hauling truck barrels down our residential street on Presidents Day.

After all, why should city hall get the holiday off but my neighborhood is treated to the impacts of construction like it’s any typical weekday?