Shreveport Noise Ordinance Opponents: Fight Not Over
Extended exposure to 85 decibels can cause hearing damage according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, that is the new limit approved by the Shreveport City Council.
Downtown Shreveport residents like Krystal Montez recently called on city council members to rescue them from what they call the unbearable noise every weekend emanating from bars and nightclubs. “Anything over 70 DB is just cruel. We're tired. We're exhausted. We're begging you to please protect the residents of Shreveport.” Despite those pleas, On Tuesday, October 10, a split council voted 4-to-3 to approve a controversial amendment to a noise ordinance - setting the limit at 85 decibels. It defeated an earlier version that would have set the limit at 70 decibels.
But it appears all this noise, about the noise ordinance, may be far from over.
Shortly before council members voted, Montez addressed the body. “I just would like to play a little clip, 2:30 in the morning this is from my apartment.” Montez is no stranger to loud music, as a DJ herself, but she has to sleep as well. “I’m begging you guys. I’m stuck. I’ve signed a lease for a year. I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford to keep getting a hotel. I can’t afford to keep calling friends.”
Montez was far from alone. Downtown nightclub owner Tim Huck recently brought out his speakers to test the sound levels, with police recording the sound levels with him. “When you start hearing what 80 and 85 is, uh, people who live downtown will not sleep, they will not sleep.”
But Alan Jackson was among the four city council members who approved the 85-decibel limit saying this is essential for a vibrant nightlife. “And downtown is going to serve as our heartbeat to bring people back, to bring the millenniums back and stop getting them to leave and move away to Dallas, other vibrant cities who have quote unquote noise downtown. Then these are the tough decisions that we have to make.”
Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Liz Swaine says the noise level controversy alienates the very group the city hopes to attract. “Residential is absolutely, absolutely the thing that we are going after in a big way right now because you have to have that 24/7 life. You have to have people living downtown who are going to get up in the morning, stroll the sidewalks, go have breakfast go Robinson Film Center at night.”
Swaine suggests there are ways to thread the needle of competing interests. “I think what threads the needle is technology. And I think there’s a lot of soundproofing options out there. There are sound walls like the ones you see next to interstates that can be put up around areas that want to play much louder than normal music.” Swaine and others conclude we have not heard the last about the noise ordinance controversy.
Along with Alan Jackson, the other three council members who approved the 85-decibel limit included Ursula Bowman, James Green, and Tabatha Taylor. The three no votes came from city council members Greyson Boucher, Gary Brooks, and Jim Taliaferro.