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Call Kurtis Investigates: Why Is Goodwill Allowed To Operate Even After Breaking Noise Law?

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A Sacramento neighborhood has been battling Goodwill for more than a year over noise. The county found Goodwill broke the law so a Call Kurtis investigation explored why they’re still being allowed to operate.

Dozens of condo owners live next door to the Sacramento Goodwill facility right off Interstate 80. They know Goodwill does good work, but they say they’re not being good neighbors.

“Big bang! It resonates, like a barrel ringing,” said Phil Anderson, a resident of 20 years.

“Boom crash,” said Larry Armstrong, who has lived in the neighborhood six years.

Anderson and Armstrong say their homes on Whisper Lane lived up to the street name until a year and a half ago when Goodwill moved in.

“We might as well call ourselves Garbage Truck Lane,” said Larry.

Larry’s home video caught the Goodwill trucks and workers in action.

“You hear trucks going up and down, fork lifts, hydraulics, the crashing and banging of metal and glass,” said Larry.

The condo homeowners association paid for an independent noise study, finding sound levels hit 78 to 81 decibels, breaking the county’s allowed limit of 75.

That’s equivalent to a freight train about 50 feet away or a garbage disposal up close.

“It just drives you crazy,” said Larry.

They complained almost a year ago to the county’s Environmental Management Department, which enforces the noise ordinance, but say it hasn’t improved.

“They just keep on going, pretty much ignoring us,” said Phil.

The county has sent Goodwill a letter and conducted its own tests in the spring and earlier this month, finding Goodwill twice exceeded the noise limits.

“We initially try to work with them,” said Mark Barcellos, supervising environmental specialist with the county.

The county says as long as Goodwill is still trying to fix the problem, it won’t be fined.

“Ultimately citations can be issued, administrative hearings can be issued,” said Barcellos.

“We want to be good neighbors and we’re part of this community,” said John Sweet, director of special operations with Goodwill Industries.

Sweet says they’ve stopped driving trucks down the alley next to the condos, although we caught a truck doing just that.

Sweet says Goodwill has spent tens of thousands of dollars adding sound-dampening insulation and now no longer crushes glass here.

“There is going to be noise in the community, that’s just a fact of life, but we’re not exceeding noise levels,” said Sweet.

But just last week, Larry’s home video and personal sound meter showed noise levels still above the county limit.

“We just have to continue fighting. If that involves lawsuits, then that’s what we’ll have to get into,” said Larry.

Goodwill told us Monday that it’s going to make even more modifications to cut down on the noise.

The county says if they don’t follow through, they could be fined or risk losing their business license.

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