Houston considers revising noise ordinance

October 11, 2011 3:44:52 PM PDT
Do your neighbors play their music too loud? What about that bar at the front of your neighborhood? The city of Houston is considering revising its noise ordinance and the changes could lead to more tickets being handed out.

A lot of residents say they are anxious for substantial changes while bar owners are saying not so fast.

Claire Harnsberger loves her Midtown neighborhood except for one neighbor, an after hours nightclub in the 3100 block of San Jacinto that brings partygoers to her street all weekend long.

"And they just yell for no particular reason in the middle of the night, 3 or 4 in the morning, and it's pretty hard to sleep through," Harnsberger said.

The city wants to make its current noise standards easier to understand. It's introduced a revamped ordinance to City Council. The idea is to provide a solid framework for complaints and citations.

"I want to support our changes in the noise ordinance and would like to be able to have an objective standard required," Houston City Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck said.

But owners of live music venue Fitzgerald's feels differently. Omar Afra says the proposed changes gives too much power to police officers to subjectively issue tickets based on neighborhood complaints.

"The proposed revisions have the potential to strangle and possible exile Houston's burgeoning music and arts community. So many of Houston's oldest and historic music venues reside in what we call residential areas," Afra said.

He and several others told council members they want the ordinance delayed until an objective standard has been set. But for Harnsberger, she'd like to see something done to cut down on the noise in her neighborhood.

"You get sick of calling the police after a while when just nothing happens, and they never get any kind of citations," Harnsberger said.

Other recommendations for this ordinance include increasing a fee up to $1,000 for an annual permit to turn the noise up at a bar.

City Council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance on Wednesday, but the controversy likely won't end there.

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