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A Musician plays at an empty bar on Bourbon Street on Aug. 24, 2006, as the popular tourist destination struggled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
A push for a tougher anti-noise ordinance in New Orleans has at least temporarily been silenced amid a boisterous protest by the Big Easy’s notoriously raucous musicians.
A protest against the proposal on Friday, featuring a phalanx of brass, winds, guitars, banjos and drums, began outside City Hall and later moved noisily into the City Council chambers. At one point, musician Glen David Andrews called for a "jazz funeral" for the noise ordinance as the band began playing "A Closer Walk With Thee," the BestofNewOrleans blog reported.
The protest, organized by the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MACCNO) — made up of musicians, bar owners and their advocates – went on even after the City Council’s Housing and Human Needs Committee canceled its meeting and withdrew the ordinance, which would set sound levels for the French Quarter at pre-1997 levels and change the way noise complaints are measured throughout the city.
The committee indicated it would revisit the issue and return with an amended proposal at its next scheduled meeting on Jan. 27.
Before the protest moved indoors, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a supporter of the sound ordinance, issued a statement commending the City Council for withdrawing it for further study:
“We believe there can be a consensus document based on inclusion and transparency,” he said. “We will continue to be a partner in this effort as the Council creates a clear and enforceable ordinance that honors our cultural traditions, respects our neighborhoods, and promotes responsible businesses.”
The proposed ordinance, which was introduced last month by a group of city residents who say the city’s lofty ambient noise levels need to be lowered, would lower allowable levels in the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and other commercial areas.
The measure also would change how noise is measured. Currently, when residents complain about noise from a bar or another source, the sound measurement is taken from their residence; under the proposed ordinance, it would taken at the property line of the source.
City law already provides fines of up to $250 for a first offense of the anti-noise ordinance and up to $500 for a second violation. A third violation carries a $500 fine and requires the business to close for two days. A fourth violation comes with a $500 fine and a two-day closure that includes a Friday.