On January 16, 2014, New Orleans City Council Members Kristin Gisleson Palmer and Stacy Head said in a joint statement that the city would limit its next sound ordinance to the Vieux Carré Entertainment district (Bourbon Street.)
However, significant additional language – much of it citywide – is in the ordinance to be voted upon this Thursday. Major changes to your rights as a citizen will be changed by City Hall. They have not been publicly vetted.
In today’s Council committee, few people knew these non-Bourbon St proposals below were part of the ordinance! Please read below and then use the contact info at the bottom of this email. Let the City Hall know that you want the Council to keep its promise. Amend the ordinance to vote ONLY on Bourbon Street changes at this time.
_Proposed major changes which will be CITYWIDE, not just VCE (Bourbon Street):
1. Citywide, the ordinance removes time restrictions (also known as the “curfew”) on street performers. The Woolworth study and public debate was overwhelmingly about bars and businesses. People concerned about street performances had no warning that language would be included in this ordinance. Such a change needs to be considered and discussed by the public in its own process and ordinance.
2. Citywide, the ordinance will remove even malicious sound violations out of Municipal Court. An adjudication officer cannot issue an arrest warrant or send the police to locate someone who fails to show up for a hearing. Police officers will no longer be able to arrest a recalcitrant violator who refuses to turn it down after repeated violations.
3. Citywide, it eliminates citizens’ right to go to court to seek injunctive relief when the sound ordinance is violated. In a city that often lacks resources for enforcement, to take away citizens’ rights to use the courts is very, very scary. For many, it has been the only remedy.
4. Citywide, it eliminates an important role of the police. Even with the new (positive) sound-related role for The Department of Health, the police must still maintain a role. The Dept of Health can never be as responsive to time-sensitive situations. The following deleted words should be restored in Section 66-137: Administration 3) “Execute other necessary action, including but not limited to, variance and permit review, and institute necessary proceedings to ["PROSECUTE OR ENJOIN" is deleted] adjudicate violators of the noise control ordinance.”
5. In VCE-1 (near House of Blues) the ordinance proposes the badly flawed system now used on Bourbon Street, but for another part of the Quarter. The 10 dBA above ambient or 60 dBA whichever is HIGHER (as opposed to lower) means there is no maximum. The use of “higher” created “sound wars” on Bourbon.
Please e-mail City Hall (email addresses below to cut and paste into the "to" box): Tell them to “Please keep your promise. Either amend out the non-Bourbon St. changes in the sound ordinance or defer the bill for more review and input.”
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