MACCNO has requested an action alert for all persons who want to be sure that music continues to be heard in the French Quarter:
The city of New Orleans proposed new zoning ordinance singles out French Quarter restaurants for live music restrictions.
The new, and final, draft of New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance is out, and it makes a number of changes that impact cultural activities in the city (you can see a full list here, and read the full ordinance here). One of these changes is that it now allows restaurants to have non-amplified musical accompaniment for patrons as a matter of right. For instance, restaurants would be able to host jazz brunches or hire a piano player without gaining a ‘conditional use’ or applying for a permit. While we believe that limiting amplification is unnecessary—restaurants would still have to abide by the noise ordinance regardless—this is still a good step forward for the city, and could provide steady employment for a number of musicians.
However, there is one problem: restaurants would be allowed to have live music throughout the City EXCEPT IN THE FRENCH QUARTER, where this would be limited to Bourbon (between Iberville and St Ann), and Decatur (only the two blocks surrounding House of Blues). This creates a situation where Saints and Sinners on Bourbon Street could have music, but a block away Court of Two Sisters on Royal could not. This would also mean that Rampart Street, once home to a number of clubs and across the street from Congo Square, could not have live music of any kind.
(Not surprisingly, this restriction on live music in the French Quarter is the work of VCPORA, who sent out an e-mail blast [see page 24] asking members, in part, to contact the council in opposition to allowing live music in restaurants, disingenuously stating that they could ‘become live entertainment venues’, and also commented that they if restaurants were to offer live music, they should no longer be permitted in much of the French Quarter [see page 12]).
We are asking you to please contact the City Planning Commission and, in addition to what other comments you may have, tell them that restaurants should be able to have live music throughout the French Quarter. Feel free to use this sample language, or create your own:
“I am writing to ask that restaurants throughout the French Quarter be allowed to have musical accompaniment, just as it they would be able to in the rest of the City. Allowing only certain restaurants to provide music for their patrons puts many businesses at an unfair disadvantage and denies musicians a substantial economic opportunity. Visitors come to the French Quarter specifically looking for food and music, and it makes no sense for it to be the only neighborhood where it is difficult to find them together.”
You can e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they must be received by 5PM this Tuesday, September 2nd. You can also attend public hearings on the Zoning Ordinance at 6PM on the 2nd, and on September 9th, also at 6PM. Both meetings are in City Council Chambers.