SUPPORT A 'NOISE ORDINANCE FOR ALL NEW ORLEANIANS'
We believe that the culture and music of New Orleans form the backbone of our city. It enhances the quality of life, creates income and opportunity for thousands of residents, and has created one of the most distinctive and famous destinations in the world. A noise ordinance that threatens the culture of New Orleans not only damages the ability of thousands of people to make a living, lowers property values and endangers quality of life, but it puts the very identity and uniqueness of the City in danger.
To ensure this doesn't happen, the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, a group of musicians, cultural workers and bearers, residents, and business owners, created the 'Noise Ordinance for all New Orleanians', which demands that any changes to the noise ordinance must be done with input and support from the cultural community. We have listed five major points that must be addressed:
LOCALIZED DECISION MAKING
MEDIATION, NOT CRIMINALIZATION
PROFESSIONAL ENFORCEMENT AND EDUCATION
CLARITY OF STREET PERFORMANCE PARAMETERS
HONORING TRADITION AND INNOVATION
Please join us and sign this petition in support of these principles. Together we can protect the culture of New Orleans, and ensure the livelihoods of our musicians, cultural workers and culture bearers.
'A Noise Ordinance for All New Orleanians' (full text)
The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (a community group composed of musicians, cultural workers and bearers, residents, and business owners) offers the following principles for a noise ordinance that works for all New Orleanians. We believe that these principles form an excellent base for the creation of a fair, equitable and accessible ordinance, but that it must also be crafted in consultation with musicians, cultural workers, community groups, residents, business owners, and professional sound scientists. Such a policy must also receive ample public hearing.
Preamble: Music and performance are the backbone of our city and they drive our local economy. Live music draws millions of tourists to the city every year, attracts new residents and investments, and enhances real estate values in neighborhoods of cultural and musical vibrancy. A comprehensive noise ordinance that threatens the distinctiveness of New Orleans threatens our quality of life, the long-term economic growth of the city, and the everyday ability of thousands of our residents to earn an income. For New Orleanians, quality of life includes recognizing the interests of performers, residents (both owners and renters), businesses, and visitors in a manner that honors our culture bearers and the traditions—new and old—that comprise our city’s most important asset.
- LOCALIZED DECISION MAKING: While a citywide noise ordinance provides necessary coherence, blanket regulations are inappropriate and do not recognize the unique characteristics present in our neighborhoods. Regulations should be appropriate to the individual character and soundscapes of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, communities, and traditions. Such policies must be created and enforced with the input of residents, neighborhood associations, businesses, performers and cultural workers.
- MEDIATION, NOT CRIMINALIZATION: Noise complaints should lead to a formalized mediation process rooted in the involvement of concerned residents, neighborhood and community groups, affected performers, cultural workers, and local businesses. Criminalizing live music is neither a good neighbor policy nor a good economic policy in a city that thrives on the availability, diversity, and innovation of performance.
- PROFESSIONAL ENFORCEMENT AND EDUCATION: New Orleans needs a dedicated office directed with handling noise complaints that is both accessible and accountable. It is integral that this office be tasked with providing outreach to residents, businesses, performers, cultural workers, and other members of the cultural community about rules and regulations. This office must also take the lead in starting and fostering any mediation necessary to bring all involved parties to a mutually satisfying resolution of issues.
- CLARITY OF STREET PERFORMANCE PARAMETERS: Hours of performance and sound levels for street musicians and other performers may require legal and enforceable regulation, but these regulations should not threaten New Orleans’ reputation as a city that nurtures music, performance, and cultural innovation. Regulation on street performance must be crafted in consultation with performers themselves as well as residents and businesses. Once determined, hours and levels should be clearly posted on streets and online. Furthermore, all involved parties should have access to training and workshops regarding these regulations to ensure a common knowledge and understanding of the issues should the need for mediation arise.
- HONORING TRADITION AND INNOVATION: Traditional cultural practices including but not limited to Jazz Funerals, Second Lines, street performance, Mardi Gras Indian practices, parades, and gatherings should be explicitly encouraged and protected in the language of any final ordinance. These traditions lie at the core of our city’s culture and its economic growth, and the need to preserve and maintain the importance of these treasures must be considered at the heart of any mediation efforts.
The culture of New Orleans is revered throughout the world, and is a vital part of our identity. Not only does it provide enjoyment for millions of visitors every year, it also provides a source of income for thousands of our residents. Yet, many times when the City makes decisions about the future of the culture, the needs and opinions of our culture bearers are not considered. We believe that it is time for that to change.
The recent debate about the noise ordinance is a perfect example of how good process leads to good policy. Several months ago, despite a process that had been ongoing for several years, a draft ordinance crafted by a small group of people was submitted that would have severely curtailed not only our cultural practices, but our cultural economy. To counter that, the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans not only held a large protest outside of City Hall, but also created our own document the 'Noise Ordinance For All New Orleanians'. This document contains five key points--localized decision making; mediation, not criminalization; professional enforcement and education; clarity of street performance parameters; and honoring tradition and innovation. Thankfully, the ordinance proposed in December was withdrawn, allowing an inclusive process to continue.
The revisions to the sound ordinance proposed in ordinance calendar #30,099 addresses each of the concerns addressed in our ‘Noise Ordinance For All New Orleanians’, particularly by eliminating the curfew for street musicians, decriminalizing violations to the sound ordinance, and codifying exemptions for traditional cultural practices.
We are respectfully submitting almost 7,500 signatures in support of the passage of this ordinance, consisting of individuals from New Orleans, greater Louisiana, and throughout the world. We look forward to a positive result of April 24th. Truly, the world is watching the outcome.
The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans