• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Regulating Music???

Seagirly20

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
We are working with a community who would like to regulate the intensity and type of musical groups/individuals in a variety of different establishments. For instance, we are grappling with how to set parameters for varying uses; acoustical guitars in a coffee shop vs. a small band in a club. If anyone has dealt with this type of regulation, please let me know....
Thanks!
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
A simple question:

Seagirly20 said:
We are working with a community who would like to regulate the intensity and type of musical groups/individuals in a variety of different establishments. For instance, we are grappling with how to set parameters for varying uses; acoustical guitars in a coffee shop vs. a small band in a club.
Why does this need regulating in this community?
 

Seagirly20

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
They want have clear regulations in their Code as to type of use and what is allowed where. There is a growing cultural entity w/in the area and they want to acutally make it easier for those who want to locate there.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Wouldn't a noise ordinance help more than something regulating types of music. Amplification can sometimes be as quiet as an acoustic performance. I would think you should be able to have any crazy act anywhere as long as they can limit themselves to a certain volume.

If your serious about additional regulations, don't forget to run it by local musicians and club owners. The MBTA (Boston) decreed that certain instruments couldn't be played by subway buskers and musicians were upset that they didn't have any input in the new rules which were pretty arbitrary. A compromise is trying to be reached now.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,693
Points
71
Seabishop's right. Either, you're looking at setting sound level limits or in my opinion you're looking at the wrong side of some pretty serious constitutional rights issues....
 

Seagirly20

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
I agree. I think what they would like to do would be to set thresholds and I will see if they already have a noise ordinance. One of the questions is- is there a tipping point, in terms of amps/decibels, when a restaurant turns into a cabaret?
 

Polaris Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
22
Points
2
Regulating Music!!!

Seagirly20 said:
I agree. I think what they would like to do would be to set thresholds and I will see if they already have a noise ordinance. One of the questions is- is there a tipping point, in terms of amps/decibels, when a restaurant turns into a cabaret?
Why should a community be interested in distinguishing between a restaurant and carbaret? Both should be considered as permitted uses in a General Commercial Zone. What is the public interests involved here?

The issue can be dealt with by traditional zoning regulations (permitted commercial use, sitting capacity, parking standards, traffic impact analysis), fire and health regulations, licquor regulations, regulations on the hours of operation (if any), and noise bylaw.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Seagirly20 said:
One of the questions is- is there a tipping point, in terms of amps/decibels, when a restaurant turns into a cabaret?
A restaurant, on a busy day, can be just as loud as cabaret.

In most noise ordinances, you typically define unacceptable noises by in a district by decibel level, regardless of the use creating that level.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
SGB said:
In most noise ordinances, you typically define unacceptable noises by in a district by decibel level, regardless of the use creating that level.
Common here is 55 or 65 dB at the property line.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
Its hard to avoid the conclusion that you're talking about here is content based regulation. Its unconstitutional.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,173
Points
51
Maister said:
Seabishop's right. Either, you're looking at setting sound level limits or in my opinion you're looking at the wrong side of some pretty serious constitutional rights issues....

What about the content of music? What would happen if someone set up a movie projector and showed porno on the side of their house? In some places the speaking of profanity is illegal, so is the playing of recorded profanity any better?
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,693
Points
71
michaelskis said:
What about the content of music? What would happen if someone set up a movie projector and showed porno on the side of their house? In some places the speaking of profanity is illegal, so is the playing of recorded profanity any better?
Two separate isssues here, Michaelskis. On the one hand, Seagirly is asking about what a community can do to "regulate intensity and type" of music. I understand that really she's implicitly asking is what controls an ordinance should put into place to encourage or discourage certain performance venues and their attendant impacts. For instance, one could set lower noise level limits, smaller seating capacties or gross floor areas, parking standards, etc. to encourage more intimate venues more suitable for acoustic performances than, say, rock but I think we'd be running seriously afoul of the 1st amendment if one were to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the performance (i.e. "content") of rock or hiphop but allowing jazz or christian contemporary music in certain zones. No legitimate governmental interest exists to justify the prohibition of certain forms of expression, so in this sense there is no way to regulate the 'type' of music performed.
On the other hand, a community could adopt a law/ordinance prohibiting 'profanity'. I personally don't like the idea, but it is not an uncommon practice. However, the regulation of this specific form of expression is not a land use consideration and therefore should have no place in a zoning ordinance.

I would agree that the operation of a theater (projecting porno movies on the side of the house) could conceivably be interpreted as a land use consideration....
 

Seagirly20

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
You are right as that was exactly what I was trying to get at. I was not suggesting regulating the "type" of music but rather the intensity of the sound in varying establishments. I am going to further explore a noise ordinance and present some options to the City. Thanks for the feedback!
 
Top