Outdoor Music

Disingenuous Politickin’

Posted in Neighborhoods, Outdoor Music on December 27th, 2010 by Gary Etie – Comments Off

In the recent letter sent to the Mayor and City Council, from the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) (Download PDF) many of the recommendations are obvious, over-the-top attempts to shoot for the moon, and (mixing metaphors) hope some of the pasta sticks to the wall.

Either that, or the demands are the result of misinformation, and as a result, a flawed understanding of the science of sound, its application in the regulatory environment, and where the City of Austin currently stands, in its conscientious pursuit of an ordinance and policy that is supportive of the Austin Music Community.

In spirit, the letter’s content, while claiming support, excitement, and commitment to helping the music community, represents, disingenuously, exactly the opposite stance.

This should be considered unacceptable, by any organization that expects to be given serious consideration, as the discussion takes place.

The Letter:
Tuesday, December 7 , 2010

Dear Honorable Mayor Leffingwell and City Council Members,

DANA is a strong supporter of live music and our culturally significant entertainment districts, but it is important to note that today there are two established downtown entertainment districts with clear boundaries (East 6 St. and the Warehouse District).

The City has long established goals of making downtown Austin a thriving residential community. As the number of residents downtown has grown, issues associated with amplified sound have continued to increase. The number of venues seeking Outdoor Music Venue (OMV) permits in non- entertainment district areas of downtown Austin has reached a critical point, eroding the quality life for many downtown residents, negatively impacting residential tax base, and limiting future high rise development adjacent to OMVs.

For example, in the Rainey Street neighborhood there are 850 high-rise homes valued at over $250 million of residential property tax base. In the neighborhoods surrounding W. 6 Street area there are 816 homes valued at over $150 million of residential property tax base. Additionally, there are thousands of residential multi-family or condominium high-rise units planned throughout non- entertainment district downtown neighborhoods which could create hundreds of millions of dollars of property tax base. It is with this in mind that we propose the following changes to the outdoor music venue ordinance:

1. Enforcement should be officer-initiated and not complaint-driven as it is today.

2. Apartment dwellers and condo owners should have same rights as single family residents to appeal OMV permits.

3. Home Owner Associations (HOA)s and Neighbor Associations (NA)s downtown should also have the right to appeal OMVs just as HOAs and NAs outside of downtown.

4. Amplified sound should be measured at the source not at the property line where elevated decks make accurate measurement problematic.

5. Outside speakers should be pointed towards the center of the space.

6. Nowhere in an outdoor venue should the decibel level ever exceed 75 decibels for all frequencies.

7. Amplified sound measurement should consider not only average but also peak values.

8. Cutoff times and peak decibel levels should be made public by a sticker visibly located on an outside surface of the establishment.

9. OMV permits should not be granted administratively. They should be subject to a public hearing.

10. Any appeal should be heard no more than 60 days from the date of the filing of the appeal.

11. Include significant penalties for non-compliance and withdrawal of the permit on a third violation. Cut off times are a critical area of this enforcement.

12. Simplify and organize sound regulations. Sound related regulations are covered in several different chapters of the Code of Ordinances and it makes it unnecessarily challenging to determine which rules apply.

OMVs, unless operated with the neighborhood in mind, can fundamentally alter a neighborhood. DANA believes the sound ordinance requires the above modifications to protect the non-entertainment downtown neighborhoods and allow them to be treated like any other Austin community.

Nightclubs, restaurants, bars and other music venues are an important part of downtown and that is why DANA is excited and committed to work with outdoor venue owners to create a dynamic relationship that includes live entertainment and the continued success of the residential growth in the downtown area.

If you have any questions or comments on the information in this letter, please let us know.

Jamie Lagarde

The Colbert Report: Noise & Sound

Posted in Outdoor Music, People & People on July 7th, 2010 by Gary Etie – 2 Comments
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Garret Keizer
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

EXCERPT | ‘The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want’ | By GARRET KEIZER | Published: May 22, 2010

APD, P.A.C.E & Guero’s Music Garden

Posted in Buildings & People, City Council, City Manager, City of Austin, Clients, Code Compliance, Code Enforcement, Fire Inspections, Food and Drink, Life - Safety, Live Music, Music, Outdoor Music, Outdoor Music Venue Permit, Permit Projects, Public Assembly, Safety, Sound Permit, Temporary Permits, The Code on April 10th, 2010 by Gary Etie – 36 Comments

Update: Michael Corcoran posted the following on the Statesman’s Austin Music Source blog about 3 hours later.
“Police shut down Guero’s outdoor stage”

By Michael Corcoran | Saturday, April 10, 2010, 12:32 PM

“Rob Lipincott of Guero’s Taco Bar said he’s not being defiant, but “trying to keep my empoyees in jobs” by hosting live music today after being shut down last night for not having a building permit for his outdoor stage. Lippincott said the city approved his site plan correction Wednesday, but that data is not yet in the computer. The amendment allows the stage, but Lippincott probably won’t receive his building permit until next week.

The shutdown was enforced by the P.A.C.E. team”

Last night, Friday, April 9th, the Austin PACE team decided to shut down the Outdoor Music Venue area of Guero’s, at the beginning of the biggest event weekend of the year for the South Congress Ave area.

This has occurred in spite of the fact that Friday was exactly one day after Guero’s Engineer, Sergio Lazano, gained approval on the Site Plan Correction, a major step in process required to obtain a Building Permit of SOME type (see “promises”, below), in order to operate the existing outdoor music venue within an 85 dB sound level limit.

The immediate need, and big question is, can Guero’s continue to have music today, as planned?

PACE (Public Assembly Code Enforcement) declared that they were going to “shut down the whole operation” meaning, including the Restaurant, if the music was not turned off immediately. They issued a citation for no Building Permit for the stage.

I am sitting here, reviewing the video of the City Council meeting of March 12, 2009, where the Mayor Will Wynn, City Council members, and attorney Brent Lloyd expressed the various ways (none of which have come to pass) that they would work with Mr. Lippincott, and Guero’s, possibly crafting new Use categories, or figuring out ways of separating Restaurant and Live Music functions into separate Use areas, in search of a solution to the problem that the authors of the proposed ordinance introduced when they DIRECTED the 70 dB limit to be referenced, from the Zoning section of the Code, in the passage of the rushed ordinance.

Guero’s has been applying itself to a solution. Mr. Lippincoot’s engineer, Mr. Lazano, had family emergencies to attend to in Mexico, (Mr. Lazano’s brother was kidnapped, which, understandably, set the project back a number of months!) which understandably interrupted the work that he and his firm were doing on the important first step, the Site Plan Correction.

Now, the day after a Site Plan Approval, a MAJOR step in the process, someone on the PACE team, or at Code Enforcement directing the PACE team, has decided to challenge the agreement that has been in place, at the discretion of the Building Officials involved, while we are all in the midst of trying to figure out a solution to our city’s outdoor music regulatory needs.

The fact is that, the City has not come through on any of the commitments and promises made at that March 12th meeting, yet Guero’s is being expected to navigate a minefield of regulatory difficulty, if it wishes to both comply with the Code, and have live music under the big oaks.

No new Use categories have been created, to address the need for an “Outdoor Music Venue” Use, distinct from Restaurant Use, or Cocktail Lounge Use. No solution has been put in place that does not require a Change of Use to Cocktail Lounge, which Greg Gurnsey points out as not-so-easy, in this same video.