Shhh! New Orleans takes steps to turn down the music

Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:33pm EDT
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By Andy Grimm

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - In New Orleans, a city synonymous with music and raucous revelry, government officials are launching a public health campaign aimed at turning down the volume.

The city this week announced the start of "Sound Check," the latest attempt to address residents' complaints about excessive noise and 60-year-old sound standards city attorneys say are unenforceable.

Health inspectors will monitor decibel levels in the French Quarter and trendy Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, where noise has long been an issue of contention between residents and music venues that operate close to homes.

The new initiative will focus initially on educating musicians and club owners about the negative health effects of loud music, such as harm to hearing, rather than enforcement, the city said.

It's an approach similar to the drive that preceded the successful passage of a city-wide indoor smoking ban this year, despite opposition from bar and casino interests.

Ethan Ellestad, spokesman for a coalition of venue owners and artists, was cautiously optimistic about the plan.

He said striking the right balance in the governance of sound levels was fundamental to preserving the city's status as one of the world's musical centers.

His group protested a move to revamp the city's noise ordinance last year because it would have reduced existing decibel limits city-wide.   Continued...

The All For One brass band performs in a second-line parade marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Edmund D. Fountain