The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to approve a new "speaker ordinance" regulating amplified music in French Quarter and CBD businesses.
The April 5 vote, which came after months of discussion and testimony from Vieux Carre residents, business owners and musicians, will take effect April 15 assuming it is signed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, which is likely.
Under the terms of the ordinance, businesses with Class A alcoholic beverage sale permits must keep speakers at least 10 feet from any open door or window — and pointed back into the club, not at the street. The distance for businesses without a liquor license is 20 feet. Nothing in the new ordinance expands upon existing laws about decibel levels, which have hamstrung other noise abatement efforts in the past.
Meg Lousteau, a French Quarter activist and spokeswoman for the group Hear the Music, Stop the Noise, called the new ordinance a "significant first step" and added, "As Councilmember [Kristin Gisleson] Palmer said, regulations over speaker placements in a Bourbon Street club cannot kill our culture, just like Katrina couldn't."
Among the other supporters of the bill was musician Deacon John Moore. Opponents, including Offbeat magazine publisher Jan Ramsey, have worried that noise abatement may lead to curbing the music scene in other mixed entertainment/residential districts, like the Frenchmen Street corridor. — Kevin Allman