By Kurtis Ming

Sacramento County is taking more action after a Call Kurtis investigation into a neighborhood’s battle with Goodwill over noise.

We call on Kurtis Ming with what happened after our team got involved.

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People living off I-80 and Madison say their neighbor, Goodwill, hasn’t been a good neighbor for more than a year.

But now, things in the Whisperwood community are quieting down.

“The noise level after your broadcast has gone down quite a bit,” said Larry Armstrong, Whisperwood Community resident.

Quite a change from our last visit to Larry Armstrong and Phil Anderson’s condos, over the summer.

“Big bang. It resonates, like a barrel ringing,” said Phil.

“Boom crash,” said Larry.

Larry and Phil said their homes on Whisper Lane sounded nothing like a whisper, after Goodwill moved in almost two years ago.

“We might as well call ourselves garbage truck lane,” said Larry.

Larry’s home video caught Goodwill trucks and workers crushing metal, glass and other recycled goods, seven days a week.

“It just drives you crazy,” said Larry.

The county’s Environmental Management Department, which enforces the noise ordinance, found Goodwill broke the law during two separate sound tests.

But it allowed Goodwill to operate, as long as they tried to make improvements to reduce noise.

Phil and Larry say it didn’t improve enough.

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

After our investigation, the county’s Planning Department got involved.

“We have determined that a portion of their operation constitutes a recycling facility,” said Tricia Stevens, Principal Planner, Sacramento County.

Stevens says Goodwill, now zoned only as a commercial property, must apply for a certificate to operate as a recycling facility, too.

Among the new conditions:
— Goodwill can only operate a “maximum of 40 trucks per day”
— “all recycling center outdoor activities shall occur between the hours of 8am and 6pm”
— Goodwill “vehicles equipped with backup beacons will be rendered inoperable”… and will use “spotters” instead

So why did it take the county a year and a half to make this change?

“All I can say is that it was complicated, they were in a grey area, they didn’t fall neatly within that definition like many other recyclers do,” said Tricia.

Goodwill’s Director of Special Operations, John Sweet, told us in the fall they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to put in sound dampening insulation and were committed to reducing noise levels.

He now tells us by email, “….the relationship with our neighbors has improved greatly.”

So is Whisper Lane living up to its name again?

“It’s getting closer. It’s more quiet talking lane,” said Larry.

“It’s nice to know we made some progress but we can’t really call this place Whisperwood the way we used to,” said Phil.

Larry says some days are pretty quiet while others are louder than expected in a residential area.

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Still not a whisper like before but he says it’s definitely not garbage truck lane anymore.