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ACTION ALERT! VCPORA Noise Ordinance

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  • #16
    Story at NOLA.com today:

    The New Orleans City Council introduced revisions to the city's noise ordinance Thursday (Dec. 19), setting strict new limits on decibel levels that opponents said could damage the city's storied live music scene.

    "Under the decibel regulations contained in this ordinance, you could soon find any outdoor (and many indoor) concerts, street performance or any other activity that rises above the level of a normal conversation illegal and punishable," the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans said in a statement. "It would also make it much easier to shut down venues that offer any form of live entertainment."

    The ordinance, introduced by the entire council, is based in part on a seven-point proposal created and approved by a coalition of neighborhood groups led by Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates.

    The points include:

    --Establishments that offer live entertainment and or amplified sound must take reasonable measures to assure compliance with the requirements of the noise ordinance. Such measures would include, but are not limited to, developing and implementing a sound control program and documenting and keeping records of all sound level measurements.

    --The city will 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 the New Orleans Police Department and the city 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.

    MOAR:

    http://www.nola.com/politics/index.s...incart_m-rpt-2

    Comment


    • #17
      From a local friend of mine involved with the community:

      This is also a prime example of the results of New Orleans selling its soul to the tourist devil. As the remaining, beleaguered residents of the French Quarter try to preserve some quality of life, they face the onslaught of tourist-oriented clubs that blast bad music at loud volumes (and apart from staff, on to the ears of nobody local except their long-suffering neighbors). So there is a real problem, but it is one of excessive tourism at its core. This is compounded in a few other places by people who have moved into -- gentrified -- neighborhoods with long-standing traditions of live music and want them to change just because they now live there. All that said, there are plenty of music clubs that skate on a lot of the rules and regulations, which is unfair to the clubs that do play by the rules.

      So it's a complex situation. I have not seen the latest version. I think there are many people really working to find a middle ground. I think it is a mistake not to tie it to zoning, because a one size fits all approach will NOT work. I think that no matter what is adopted, enforcement will be a major issue, just as it is for everything else here, and unfortunately the mayor has done close to nothing in four years to deal with the multiple enforcement problems.

      Regardless of this ordinance, I don't think we are close to solving this problem, let alone the underlying issues, any time soon.

      Just my contribution to the noise ....

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by larrybalmur View Post
        From a local friend of mine involved with the community:

        This is also a prime example of the results of New Orleans selling its soul to the tourist devil. As the remaining, beleaguered residents of the French Quarter try to preserve some quality of life, they face the onslaught of tourist-oriented clubs that blast bad music at loud volumes (and apart from staff, on to the ears of nobody local except their long-suffering neighbors). So there is a real problem, but it is one of excessive tourism at its core. This is compounded in a few other places by people who have moved into -- gentrified -- neighborhoods with long-standing traditions of live music and want them to change just because they now live there. All that said, there are plenty of music clubs that skate on a lot of the rules and regulations, which is unfair to the clubs that do play by the rules.

        So it's a complex situation. I have not seen the latest version. I think there are many people really working to find a middle ground. I think it is a mistake not to tie it to zoning, because a one size fits all approach will NOT work. I think that no matter what is adopted, enforcement will be a major issue, just as it is for everything else here, and unfortunately the mayor has done close to nothing in four years to deal with the multiple enforcement problems.

        Regardless of this ordinance, I don't think we are close to solving this problem, let alone the underlying issues, any time soon.

        Just my contribution to the noise ....
        There is some sense here, as I agree that there are clubs on Bourbon and elsewhere who blast rock music in an inappropriate manner. But what I've read about the proposed ordinance is a knee-jerk reaction and over reaction, and would be hurtful to the smaller clubs and bars. I hope the folks in charge can work together to find a solution that is fair to all. I did send emails to all on the city council list, and a staffer from Susan Guidry's office was the only response received (a polite 'thank you, will take your comments into account' message).

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by larrybalmur View Post
          This is also a prime example of the results of New Orleans selling its soul to the tourist devil. ....
          As one of those devilish tourists, be careful what you ask for. I don't think there's a city in the US who doesn't go thru this kind of thing, but it's sometime hard to remember what keeps you on a tourist map. The Not In My Back Yard mentality is strong EVERYWHERE, but with tourism such a HUGE part of NOLA it must be kept a big part of this discussion.

          I remember the Fest after Katrina when almost every local I met pleaded with me to return and to ask my friends to come visit because without tourists, the city would have been in trouble.

          I have faith that the people in charge will figure it out, but because I'm from Chicago (and I soaked in the dirty backdoor deals the fictionalized on Treme), I'm also interested in seeing who profits from any changes.

          Comment


          • #20
            that old Devil tourist continues to be the driving force of New Orleans' economy. Any local who does not realize the importance of that 'devilish tourist' ought to move to Detroit to get a feel for what this town would be without our visitors.

            Comment


            • #21
              More interesting feedback:

              Yesterday, the attached amendments the city’s sound ordinance was introduced by the New Orleans City Council. We are so appreciative that all 7 members of the City Council agreed to be a co-sponsor of this legislation. That is an excellent sign of the commitment of this city to come together to finally bring some improvements to a chronic citywide problem.

              The revisions to the sound ordinance will be considered and voted on in 2014. As always, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in, as it should.

              Unfortunately, when the City Council takes up the issue of sound, significant misinformation always seems to be conveyed, both in the blogosphere and even in today’s Times-Picayune/NOLA.com. We asked the latter for corrections, and the story has been updated.

              Here are the facts…

              1. We are now up to 20 neighborhood groups – from across the city – as part of our coalition! Thank you! A milestone!

              2. Contrary to several news reports, yesterday’s ordinance seeks to address (only) items 3, 6 and 7 on the 7 Essential Items list (also attached). Of those, items 6 and 7 are French Quarter-only.

              3. Contrary to social media reports, the proposed legislation does not change sound levels across the city, only the French Quarter. And even the changes for the Quarter are modest – still allowing for more volume than just about every American city you can think of. It is far from “restrictive,” as one report termed it.

              4. This legislation addresses basically two points: Where sound measurements are taken, and the French Quarter decibel levels, which are modestly scaled back to the levels they were before being raised in 1997.

              5. Previously, items 1 and 2 on the Essential Items list were addressed at Councilabout a month ago. A resolution was adopted and funding has been provided for the health department to develop a pro active program for sound management. It is now up to Mayor Landrieu’s administration to create and implement the program. We look forward to learning more and will, of course, keep you posted.

              6. Item 4 will need to be addressed in the Legislature.

              7. Item 5 is yet to be done.

              All of this is modest, incremental, reasonable and common sense. It is all part of a consistent public education campaign of which you have been such an important part. We thank you, and hope you will continue to add your voice to others in the city concerned about this issue. Please help us dispel any talk to the contrary.

              If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.

              Thank you very much. I hope you have the greatest of holidays!

              Nathan Chapman, chair of the (now!) 20 neighborhood organizations coalition

              Comment


              • #22
                Hi all,

                First, thanks for the attention and time you've devoted to evaluating this pressing issue. We've taken a look at the issue and issued the following statement on our website:

                http://maccno.com/?p=71

                In January 2011, the City Council hired David S. Woolworth of Oxford Acoustics to study the City’s soundscape and to provide recommendations on how regulations and enforcement could strike a balance between commercial enterprise and quality of life issues. After 18 months of research and community input, the report “New Orleans Sound Ordinance and Soundscape Evaluation and Recommendations” was released in August 2013. This report considers 200 years of New Orleans history and contains precise scientific recommendations for measuring and controlling sound levels.

                On Dec. 19, 2013 the City Council introduced an ordinance that contradicts recommendations of the report they commissioned in virtually every substantive way including the location of the sound meter, the metrics used for sound readings, and the suggested decibel limits. These departures were not driven by professional or popular opinion, but by a wealthy lobbying group called the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates (VCPORA). Much of the City Council’s proposed ordinance is taken verbatim from VCPORA’s own plan: “7 Essential Items to Make New Orleans’ Noise Ordinance Fair and Functional.” These are not the only publicly proposed recommendations that have been presented to the city. MACCNO, in concert with a diverse group of musicians, businesses, residents, patrons, and culture bearers, issued its own principles for a new noise ordinance, the key tenets of which align completely with the report issued by Oxford Accoustics. As of this writing, these principles have support from more than 1,800 citizens and counting.

                1. Location of the sound meter: The Oxford Acoustics report commissioned by the city calls for sound level measurements to be made at the receiving land use property line, while their proposed ordinance recommends the opposite, “as close to the property line of the emanating land use as is practicable.” This change from the “receiving” to the “emanating” property line will drastically lower acceptable sound levels and was specifically urged by VCPORA in “Essential Item #3” of their 7-point plan.

                2. Metrics used for sound reading: The Oxford Acoustics report commissioned by the city recommends measuring average loudness for the duration of the sound reading (dBA Leq and dBC Leq), but the proposed ordinance uses a more sensitive measurement (dBA L10 and dBA Lmax). The change to this measuring system, requested by VCPORA in “Essential Items #6 and #7,” will result in much higher readings for the same sound levels.

                3. Suggested decibel limits in the French Quarter: Decibel limits in the city’s proposed ordinance are far lower than those recommended in their commissioned report and are 100% identical to those put forth in VCPORA’s 7-point plan:

                Oxford Acoustic recommended levels
                VCR < 10pm: 75 dBA(85 dBC)
                VCR > 10pm: 55 dBA(65 dBC)
                VCC < 10pm: 75 dBA(85 dBC)
                VCC > 10pm: 60 dBA(70 dBC)

                Levels requested by VCPORA and adopted in proposed city ordinance
                VCR < 10pm: 60 dBA L10(Lmax70)
                VCR > 10pm: 55 dBA L10,(Lmax60)
                VCC < 10pm: 65 dBA L10(Lmax75)
                VCR > 10pm: 60 dBA L10(Lmax65)


                VCPORA’s 7-point plan was so controversial and unpopular that earlier this year the group canceled their press conference to unveil it. Now, after City Council members have met in closed door meetings with VCPORA members, the 7-point plan has apparently been unceremoniously dropped into a citywide ordinance that will lower acceptable sound levels and crush economic development from Freret to Frenchmen to Florida Avenue. All of this based on a few noise complaints brought by a handful of French Quarter residents.

                City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer released this statement: “A proposal was introduced today in an attempt to offer a starting point for public consideration and discussion. The ordinance that was introduced today did not originate from my office, but I signed on to it because I support its intention: to carry on an important dialog and get us closer to a sound ordinance that is fair and objective.”

                The proposal did not originate from Councilmember Palmer’s office, it was taken directly from VCPORA’s 7-point plan. The unacceptable aspect of Palmer’s statement is the idea that it’s an appropriate starting point for a discussion on the noise ordinance. Palmer’s office commissioned the Oxford Acoustics report for the sole purpose of noise ordinance recommendations, and after two years taking community comments and attempting to balance a variety of competing interests, this is the logical place to begin the discussion.

                The ordinance drafted by VCPORA and proposed by the City Council makes a mockery of a “transparent” policy process by disregarding a scientific report from a professional audiologist in favor of the whims of a select few. The draft must be redacted and replaced by one that is based on the city commissioned report for ordinance recommendations.


                We hope this illustrates the manner and process with which this issue is being addressed. Let us know if you have any questions and comments. Thanks!

                --Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans
                Last edited by MACCNO; 12-20-2013, 07:12 PM. Reason: Formatting table of information

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by duende View Post
                  As a cautious (OK, suspicious and verging on conspiracy-theorist at times) citizen and regulatory employee, I'm well aware of the gerrymandering of committee and board calendars to quell adversity - I had to hop on a plane on Dec 23rd to attend a planning commission meeting on a Walmart superstore... they were not happy to see me - but I can't see anything about this item on the agenda for today's Council meeting. It does seem a little backward that the City scanned the document as an image and converted it to a PDF, making text searches a lot more difficult, but that's probably lack of tech rather than evil intent. Since the smoke has probably already cleared by now if the item was presented, do we have any government scholars here who know if New Orleans, or Louisiana, ever adopted the equivalent of California's Brown Act to provide for transparency in government meetings?


                  p.s. - A scientific evaluation of the NOLA noise ordinance issues from David Woolworth of Oxford Acoustics, Inc.:
                  http://www.nolacitycouncil.com/docs/...1-01883-01.pdf note: I did see Mr. Smith. Esq., as one of the contributors, so take the recommendations with an appropriately-sized block of salt.
                  Right, and funny thing is the noise ordinance draft introduced yesterday conflicts with the city commissioned report in every way. It is far more restrictive than the recommendations made in the scientific evaluation. There is a petition against the noise ordinance draft, which I urge everyone to sign and share with friends because this ordinance is extreme and the process behind it was very corrupt.

                  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/369/1...anians/?beta=1

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Live Music NOLA View Post
                    Right, and funny thing is the noise ordinance draft introduced yesterday conflicts with the city commissioned report in every way. It is far more restrictive than the recommendations made in the scientific evaluation. There is a petition against the noise ordinance draft, which I urge everyone to sign and share with friends because this ordinance is extreme and the process behind it was very corrupt.

                    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/369/1...anians/?beta=1
                    SIGNED

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Or just business as usual...

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Those sound levels are ridiculously low. Our City's proposed Noise Ordinance is at 85 dBA, just like Austin, Orlando and Anchorage Alaska. New Orleans is supposed to be quieter than Anchorage?

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          A measured and sensible response:

                          http://uptownmessenger.com/2013/12/o...ise-ordinance/

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Has Jan Ramsey opined on this yet? I spoke with Kristin today and she said that her committee had a broad group of representation including musicians and Jan. It should be a very interesting discussion when this comes up in CC chambers again.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by rosetree View Post
                              Has Jan Ramsey opined on this yet? I spoke with Kristin today and she said that her committee had a broad group of representation including musicians and Jan. It should be a very interesting discussion when this comes up in CC chambers again.
                              Jan speaks...

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                BIG meeting today...

                                https://www.facebook.com/events/3393...0428296096558/

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