French Quarter bar owners come out against the proposed sound ordinance.

Bourbon Street photo

The revised sound ordinance will be discussed by City Council’s Housing and Human Needs Committee Friday at noon in Council Chambers at City Hall, so everybody’s doing what they can to pre-tilt the scales. The most ironic effort comes from a coalition of Bourbon Street and French Quarter business owners, who sent a letter to Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell last week asking her to oppose the revised ordinance. It says in part:

we understand and agree that we need to find an effective way to regulate sound that balances the interests of all parties. However, this should not mean enactment of a new law that has no chance of succeeding in eradicating excessive noise and providing reasonable sound levels for businesses and local musicians to operate and perform. 

Whether any of that is true is a matter for debate. What isn’t is that Bourbon Street is largely the reason that the ordinance is being revised. Other isolated venues may have noise issues, but on a regular basis, Bourbon Street is the loudest place in the city at night, and some of the ordinance provisions are in place because of the unique problems created by having a number of high-decibel venues sitting next to each other on a block. 

It’s no surprise that they chose to lobby for their side, and they should. But much the same way that it was nervy for the pro-“seven essentials” side to call itself pro-musician, it takes chutzpah for venues that have chosen to fight volume with volume to present themselves to City Council as the reasonable ones without a hint of contrition. “We know a lot of changes to the way we regulate noise are necessary and important,” the letter concludes:

But we do not believe we should “cherry pick” certain parts of a system that everyone agrees requires a comprehensive overhaul. This is especially compelling when the proposed changes lack a consensus of the community. 

As business owners operating in the center of our oldest entertainment district, we want to be part of the solution. We will continue to work with you, your office and the other members of the council to provide our perspective from “interested parties” who will be most impacted by any changes in our noise regulations.