Noise & Sound Ordinance Changes Are Imminent:
There is no mention, at this time, on the City of Austin website (See City Council Draft Agenda for Jan 27th) but if you are interested or involved, bookmark that link, and help me keep an eye out for the addition of an Item that is going to have a significant impact on the Austin Music Community. Note: “Draft agendas are subject to change without notice”.
On Jan 27th, or soon thereafter, the Council is going to propose significant changes to the Noise and Sound Ordinance.
Whether they intend to amend the existing ordinances, or create a completely new sets of rules and regulations to guide the City of Austin in reviewing, approving, and hearing appeals, for Outdoor Music Venue and Sound Permits, and enforcing the ordinance, I don’t know. Several interested parties appear to be heavily involved in the discussion and formation of these changes. The Music Commission voted on recommendations on Nov. 1, 2010. As far as I can tell, this year, thing are much less transparent, and will only see the light of day when added to the Agenda.
One big question is, will the Council reinstate the expired, multi-day Sound Permit, as, again, we are stuck with the existing 1 day Sound Permit, or the year-long Outdoor Music Venue Permit, as the only 2 options for an outdoor music event, and that won’t cut it, especially during SxSW.
Listen, in the video below (32:00 ), to the discussion at Thursday night’s Council hearing, when Council Member Sheryl Cole asked about Lustre Pearl’s ability to have an outdoor event during SxSW.
The listen, closely (35:10) to what Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez says about discussions that are going on, referring to the revival of last year’s first-ever, multi-day, 96 Hour Sound Permit.
I suspect that several well run organizations have gotten their PR campaigns and lobbying tools in order, and may get actual consideration of some of the backward looking suggestions that are being presented to Council. At the moment, it does not feel like this is going to turn out well, for the music community, and the creative class in our town, unless something is done to counter the forces that desperately needed protection of their dominant position, or real estate investments.
Vanity forces me to watch my 3 minutes (at 6:15) but it’s painful, and you may just want to skip it. I was contacted by Lustre Pearl only 3 days before the Council’s hearing of the Appeal, which left little time to prepare, and by postponing the hearing until 10:30 PM, the people who had donated their time to me had to go to work, and I was limited to 3 minutes. My halting attempt to edit 12 minutes down to 3, on the fly, are apparent.
The vote and the public discussion were all choreographed ahead of time (watch Council Member Martinez closely), so it was all for naught, anyway, for me and about 30 other people who gave up the 8 hours from their day, and their jobs, because the hearing got postponed from it’s originally scheduled 4 PM slot in the Council Agenda (another nice little trick, since entertainment and music business people have to go to work, at night, and can’t stick around to speak and/or show support at 10:30 at night!). My plea to Council, to follow the law, and adhere to the rules and regulations in the Code, was in vain.
As the Lustre Pearl hearing concluded, as the rest of the crowd exited the Council Chamber, I just stood and looked, incredulously, at Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez, as the last item on the Agenda was taken up by Council. The Mayor Pro Tem decided to come down from the dais, walk up to me, and tell me that I had “copped an attitude”.
And you know, he’s right. The way that Permit appeal was handled, in my opinion, was a shame. Neighborhood organizations are specifically barred from the appeal of approved Outdoor Music Venue Permits, in the CBD. It is specifically spelled out in the Code, as part of the Noise and Sound Ordinance that was passed only 2 years ago.
Instead, the letter of the law, and the spirit of the Code was circumvented. The economy was trotted out and blamed for things not working out as the Council had planned, when they zoned the area CBD, at the request of, and by a vote of, the Rainey area residents themselves. Misinformation, fear mongering and overt overstatements of safety concerns were invoked by neighborhood organizations reps, in order to try to salvage their apparently unwise real estate investments.
So I reckon I do have an attitude, and now, a deep distrust, to go with it. I thought we, as a City, as a music community, were better than that.
Reckon me this … what’s the use of rules, if the same people who are entrusted to pass the rules don’t follow the rules, themselves, when it’s politically inconvenient?