Austin aims to solve live music noise complaints with new policy

Weezer playing at Stubb's during Rachael Ray's SXSW 2017 party. (KXAN Photo/Calily Bien)
Weezer playing at Stubb's during Rachael Ray's SXSW 2017 party. (KXAN Photo/Calily Bien)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Since Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, you expect to hear live music when you stroll the downtown corridor. But, for many who live downtown, the fight to keep the noise down has been an issue that has only grown in decibels over the past few years.

After holding meetings and involving stakeholders, the City of Austin Music and Entertainment Division within the Economic Development Department announced they have come up with a new policy and revised music permit that the city hopes will appease everyone. The agent of change policy goes before the Austin City Council on June 15th.

The city says the proposal will require new businesses (music venues, residential and hotel development) moving into the area to be responsible for compatibility related to sound, and to build accordingly to manage the sound impact.

“The new developments, whether it’s residential towers or hotels, we want to make sure they fully understand the sound impact that’s created,” said Alex Lopez with the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

The policy will require residential or hotel projects within 600 feet of a permitted outdoor music venue to acknowledge the proximity of the venue and commit to building standards that will mitigate the sound. The city says this isn’t all on the residential/hotel developers either. New outdoor music venues must also comply with sound mitigation efforts.

“Music venues maybe going into more residential areas. That music venue will have to acknowledge that they are going to be the agent of change in that scenario and build accordingly,” Lopez said.

Bob Woody, a local business owner says he’s seen the change in the Austin music scene.

“There is more live music right now than there was 10 years ago,” Woody says.

As a business owner who has some live music venues, Woody says he’s seen some clubs have issues with nearby tenants but overall, he suggests businesses stick to this theory.

“If you decide to set up by a live music venue, don’t complain if you hear the music. It’s the same old analogy that everyone thinks of, if there’s an airport over there and you move close to it, you’re going to hear some planes,” Woody said.

The permit process will also be streamlined by bringing all functions associated with issuance of the permit within the Music Office instead of involving two separate city departments.

Last year, Austin also approved expanding hours for music venues along Red River as part of a pilot program. The venues can now have music until midnight on Thursday and 1:30 a.m. on the weekend.

 

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