95% of our events are to raise money for local charities. We have built strong ties with local musicians and filmmakers as well as artists from across the world. Our focus is to support the artists and friends in our community.
The City of Austin should see our venue and all other music venues in the East Sixth Street entertainment district as something to cherish and save. We must be able to support local and touring artists alike for the benefit of not only our business, but the artists, the listener, the onlooker, the passerby and the community.
Thank you for your continued support.
July 30,2012 Dear Austin City Council,
Cheer up Charlie's is devoted to being the new leader in music and artistic performance in a growing and ever changing austin scene. We have our fingers on the pulse and are responding to the needs and demands of the community by providing a place for expression in a way that truly encapsulates the artist's vision and expectations.
The sound curfew that we are currently being asked to follow jeopardizes our ability to function as the type of business that we are and aspire to be. Curfew stipulations that are made for certain venues do not necessarily cater to the type of business that thrives on East Sixth. For example, a sound curfew rule that may be easier for one venue may not work for our crowd, as our primary customers and live show attendees do not actually leave their houses until about 11pm. Another venue's primary crowd might be an early, family-oriented dinner crowd that is accustomed to seeing live music early and then going home before 11pm. What we have seen is that when we have booked earlier shows that end at the City’s proposed curfew time of 10pm, our revenue is immediately negatively impacted when the music is cut off. The nine-block area of East Sixth Street roughly between Lavaca Street to the west and Interstate 35 to the east is recognized as the Sixth Street Historic District, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1975. The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is on the United States federal government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation. Imposing restrictions on a venue within that district to the point of stifling that venue’s success is not preservation.
When a city is creating new rules for a growing business & entertainment district to follow, it should consider the type of growth that is occurring specific to the area, and create rules that are fair and sensitive to that type of growth. Businesses and live music venues should be able to thrive within the structure, allowing for compromise and the flexibility to succeed. With the current curfew times, venues in the East Sixth Street area are set up for failure. The current standards are rigid because they are focused on cut-off times rather than decibel levels, which are much more manageable, relevant, and in-use during operating hours. The law should be more reflective of how loud the music is, and whether or not it is offensive, as opposed to the length of time it has been playing. As it stands now, when APD responds to a complaint, 100% of the time, they confirm that the levels are not audible from the caller’s home, but that the mere fact that the live music is occurring and visible is the infraction. In our conversations with the neighbors, they have even stated, “I can’t hear the music from my house, but I am driving by and I can see that you’re breaking the rule by having music on.” APD has recently expanded their entertainment district patrol division to cover East Sixth Street, however, the sound ordinances applied to the entertainment district, which have a much later cut-off time, have not been adjusted and are not being applied to East Sixth Street. The growth on East 6th is only going to progress. City officials need to implement rules that reflect that growth. Irrational, sporadic calling from neighbors, dependent upon personal bias are frightening and disruptive to artists and business staff. There is no consistency in noise calls. Sometimes the calls are based on preference for the event or type of music. In one instance, we experienced firsthand a neighbor at onset making a complaint, but then upon arrival, thanking us because the event happened to be a benefit for Bastrop Wildfire Relief, even though we were breaking curfew. We conduct events every night, either in the inside or outside stage format, following the same, consistent format. However, the noise calls sometimes come in after months of no word from the neighbors, and sometimes they come in 6 nights out of the week. The inconsistencies are indicative of the unpredictable nature of the source of the complaint. On the argument of "I was here first", The Mohawk and Club DeVille are only two examples of clubs with little restrictions standing long before residences were built directly across the street. If these newer residences are allowed to move in and apply restrictions, it seems the balance is a little off keel. If the "I was here first" argument is admissible in any ruling, venues such as The Mohawk and Club Deville should have their restrictions lifted based on simple fairness, or this argument should not be allowed to have any standing.
Cheer Up Charlies makes thoughtful decisions when planning and organizing events. We use professional equipment that is cared for and is considered some of the industry’s best. We have maintained the use of a sound mitigation band shell that significantly cuts out harsh frequencies. We are in frequent communication with our artists throughout each night’s event, conducting decibel readings every 30 minutes. There is a high level of management occurring during these events, where we walk the property to check levels, and use sound meters that measure all frequencies. We do this alongside standard bar management, ensuring safety for our customers throughout the night. We reach out to the city and have proven we are willing to take steps to put in place sound mitigation techniques. We return calls and go to meetings. We are a venue making huge strides to create a positive atmosphere, and venues that use sound mitigation techniques should be rewarded for taking precautionary measures. Our efforts are more extensive than just people who throw up speakers to have a big party. 95% of our events are to raise money for local charities. We have built strong ties with local musicians and filmmakers as well as artists from across the world. Our focus is to support the artists and friends in our community.
There are some misconceptions about what East Sixth Street has been historically and what it is now. East Sixth Street is not a neighborhood. In the attached letter, the Guadalupe Association for Improved Neighborhoods (GAIN) states this fact. We consider 7th street to be a busy road until the peak hours of 2 a.m., as it is widely used for transit throughout the entertainment district until this time. 7th St. is considered a gateway to the airport. The traffic is louder than even on 6th street where people are not driving as fast and using the street as a common corridor. Using these real world, measurable numbers, this places the sound of the nearest venue (Cheer Up Charlies) at a lower SPL than the passing traffic (see attached chart). Residential codes currently apply to an area that is actually alive with entertainment, thriving and growing every day, and it is directly connected to our nationally recognized historic district. There is a common commute by foot that can easily be tracked by anyone who is simply standing in its flow. On any given night, hundreds, into thousands of people walk this street from one side to the other. There is no residential neighborhood where this takes place.
Cheer Up Charlies proposes that the City of Austin Council consider making a few reasonable changes to the way the code reads that supports the thriving entertainment district currently in place. We would ask that the standard be based on decibel levels, which are easy to control, as opposed to blanket curfew cutoffs with time limitations. We would like programmed music to be considered acceptable as we have noticed it helps us keep customers at our venue. Programmed music is much easier to control than live bands, and should be considered acceptable ambient sound.
The City of Austin should see our venue and all other music venues in the East Sixth Street entertainment district as something to cherish and save. We must be able to support local and touring artists alike for the benefit of not only our business, but the artists, the listener, the onlooker, the passerby and the community. We are the backbone of this industry and the facilitator of its ever widening scope of interest.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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