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VETO Silences Controversial Noise Ordinance


Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux vetoed the recently-approved ordinance that would have allowed noise to reach 85 decibels. But they're measuring the sound inside a residence, not at the speaker.

Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux has vetoed a council-approved ordinance that would have permitted noise up to 85 decibels downtown. The originally proposed amendment to the city’s noise ordinance called for a 65 decibel limit. But the '85 decibel supporters' won out, despite pleas from downtown residents that such a noise ceiling would ruin their quality of life.
Mayor Arceneaux says if or when the vetoed noise ordinance comes back to the city council, likely at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, November 15, they would need five votes to overturn that veto. The mayor says he does not expect to see that happen. “And at that point I think we need to look for perhaps a compromise. As I said, I’d rather see a much lower standard outside of the downtown entertainment district. And I would be willing to accept a higher standard than 65(dB) in the downtown area because of the nature of the different kind of uses that are there.”


The mayor says there appears to be some confusion about where the sound levels are checked. And that, in turn, has led to false conclusions that the city would monitor speaker levels at the venue where the noise emanates. “The thing I want to make sure people understand, Jeff, is that we’re not measuring at the speaker. We’re measuring off premises. So, we are measuring the sound where it would be received by somebody who did not voluntarily subject himself or herself to the sound and I think that’s an important distinction that some people don’t seem to understand.”
So, while Mayor Arceneaux says they are not monitoring the sound levels at the entertainment venues, all the talk is focused on keeping the sounds – or noise – mostly on the property. “You could have speakers at 90 or 95 and still result in a much lower decibel level a hundred feet away. If you choose to design your system and design your property in that way.” This idea of containment of the sound is exactly what we heard back on Monday from Liz Swaine.


She is the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, which has a vested interest in keeping all the parties involved happy – whether they be downtown residents , shop owners, or bar and nightclub operators. The DDA head explained that having people living downtown is absolutely essential in breathing new life into that part of Shreveport. Swaine brought up the idea of a high-tech solution to capture much of the noise, which the mayor supports. “Oh, I think that there’s no question there is. And in my veto message, I mentioned you can have sound curtains, you could have barriers,” and Arceneaux also mentioned sound cancellation technology that’s also available to consumers. As for guidance or reference moving forward, the mayor cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states noise above 70 decibels for prolonged periods of time may start to damage your hearing.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.