City Council Discussing Revising Noise Ordinances, Today: Bands & Music Fans, Let Them Hear You
Got some somewhat distressing news yesterday from Omar Afra over at the ever-cool Free Press Houston; he sent out a press release (which is also up here) warning that the Houston City Council will be considering changes to the current noise ordinances here in our fair city, and they’re doing it at a meeting today (Tues., October 11th).
What does this mean? Well, there’s some background over here, in an article on KHOU‘s Website, and it sounds fairly easy to get behind, honestly — I mean, who likes hearing their neighbor run a jackhammer at 1AM? Surely giving the police more power to enforce the law is a good thing, right?
The problem, however, is that relaxing the current law means that any officer anywhere in the city will have the power to shut down any type of noise they deem to be above the legal limit, without using any kind of equipment to check whether or not it actually is. As Omar points out in the FPH‘s press release, allowing officers to enforce the law in this way is like letting them hand you a speeding ticket if they think you’re driving above the limit. It’ll all be at the officer’s own discretion.
The reason this hits close to home, both for the FPH and us here at SCR, is because the revised ordinance could make it a whole lot harder for venues in this town to continue having bands. Not only does the fine double, from $500 to $1000, but an office could get a complaint about, say, a loud punk show at Fitz and decide to fine the venue without verifying the noise level actually violates the law. Hell, they could do it just because they don’t like the music that’s being played; I’ve seen that happen a few times with the ordinance as it stands now.
I don’t think anybody’s arguing that the ordinance should be thrown out, mind you — but as representatives of the music community in this city and people who will be affected by changes to the law, we (meaning you, me, bands, labels, venues, etc.) need to make our voices heard. Contact your City Councilperson asap or, better yet, get on over to City Hall at 2PM and make yourself heard in person.