Austin: Noise Capital of America?
Noise or music? The press release from our city government raises the alarm: proposed changes to Austin’s noise ordinance affect…the future of the music economy in Austin. (My emphasis.) Yes, boys and girls. This is just about being the hip and cool. It’s about money!
According to Cory Walton, (BCNA Bulletin Oct-Nov 2007). the committee who drafted the proposed new ordinance compared Austin’s existing ordinance to over a dozen cities including Los Angeles and New York City. Most cities set noise limits between 58 and 75 decibels (dB). Austin’s current limit is by far the highest, 85 dB. That’s like trying to sleep when your alarm clock is going off.
If you live near or around downtown you might already know that complaining to the police when some concert is shrilling on into the night doesn’t help much. Even if you can hear the music a mile away while inside your house with the windows shut, it is probably within Austin’s legal limit of 85 dB. So what if it’s a school night, or your kid’s sick, or you have to be up at 4AM to catch a plane for an important meeting?
Pitting the people who live downtown against Austin’s music industry seems like an odd tactic especially with the city gov’s current exhortations to get people to move into the city center. Why does it have to be either/or? Surely Austin can remain the Live Music Capital of the World while maintaining a livable downtown–livable for day people as well as night people.
Can’t we have music without the noise? Wouldn’t it be great if we could come together in harmony like the people of Minnneapolis whose noise ordinance states, “Individuals are not required to welcome unwanted noise into their homes and there simply is no right to force unwanted noise into the home of an unwilling listener.”
If you’d like to have your voice heard above the noise, tonight there will be a Town Hall Meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 5, 2007, at Momo’s, 618 W. Sixth St. No. 200 to discuss the existing and proposed noise ordinances.