Organizations such as Hear the music stop the noise, Algiers Presidents Council, the Broadmoor Improvement Association, the Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission (ENONAC), Esplanade Ridge/Treme Civic Association, Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association, French Quarter Citizens, Garden District Association, Lake Vista Property Owners Association, Maple Area Residents Inc., Neighbors First for Bywater, St. Charles Avenue Association, Vieux Carre Property Owners and Residents Association (VCPORA), and Warehouse District Neighborhood Associationztions have been approaching city officials proposing new noise ordinance laws that greatly affect musicians, venue owners and buskers.
Why have the very people these proposed noise ordinance laws would affect greatly not been invited to join this discussion? We deserve a place at this table.
On June 17th the Vieux Carre Property Owners and Residents Association (VCPORA) announced it would be holding a press conference at City Hall on June 18th at 11 a.m. to rally support for their “Seven Essential Items to Make our Noise Ordinance work for New Orleans.” This was immediately met with skepticism and excitement from many NOLA advocates for live music venues and musicians. Monday night, VCPORA cancelled the press conference after what Jocelyne Ninneman describes as a “barrage of opposition confirm[ing] attendance” in OffBeat Magazine’s write-up. Clearly, Ninneman has a point when asserting that “It appears as if manipulating the relationships between neighborhood associations and City Hall is not a tactic that easily flies under the radar anymore.”
VCPORA’s plan ignores the reality that individual neighborhoods need to be able to reach solutions that work for them.The plan also would hurt the livelihood of musicians and venue owners. The plan ,which VCPORA wanted city wide with the support of the above organizations is as follows:
1. Establishments that offer live entertainment must take reasonable measures to assure compliance with the requirements of the noise ordinance. Such measures include, but are not limited to, developing and implementing a sound control program and documenting sound level measurements to be kept on file at the premises.
2. Appoint a full time person who will have the authority and affirmative duty to administer and enforce the ordinances, and who shall have the full backing of NOPD and Health Department, and who shall establish and maintain a publicly accessible (via interactive website) centralized record-keeping system to track complaints, enforcement and compliance efforts.
3. Amend ordinance to clarify that all measurements of sound emanating from private or public property in all zoning districts will be taken at the property line of the source of the sound.
4. In order to impose penalties that will deter repeat offenses for abuse of sound ordinance standards, pass state legislation to allow higher or unlimited fines. In the absence of this legislation, consider other deterrents such as limited operating hours or complete shut down of the offending establishment.
5. Make significant revisions to the Mayoralty permitting process to ensure advance public notification and opportunities for public comment prior to granting a mayoralty permit authorizing a sound-producing land-use to the requesting establishment.
6. (Would pertain only to French Quarter) Return decibel levels in VCC and VCR to the following levels which existed in 1989 in the French Quarter and which still currently exist in the Marigny
7 am - 10 pm - L10 60 Lmax 70
10 pm - 7 am - L10 55 Lmax 60
7 am - 10 pm - L10 65 Lmax 75
10 pm - 7 am - L10 60 Lmax 65
7. (Would pertain only to French Quarter) Enforce a maximum of 85 Lmax in the VCE for sound protruding into the public space. This maximum helps ensure that citizens and involuntary listeners won’t be exposed to sound beyond acceptable industrial levels. Also, maintain ambient as the standard in the VCE but use as “db level 10 above ambient noise level, not to exceed Lmax 85 db.”
What does 75 decibels sound like? Well, a flush toilet, for starters.110 dB a symphony concert!
The New Orleans noise ordinance is going through revisions. But who will write it? Musicians, buskers and venue owners deserve to be involved in this rewrite. Groups such as MACCNO ( Music and culture coalition of New Orleans) Bywater rising , Sweet Home New Orleans, I love the noise I am the noise, New Orleans Jazz Society, Second line clubs, Mardi Gras Indian tribes and many other advocate groups and those who just love our music and culture deserve to be involved in this rewrite.