Sue Mobley, the Executive Director of Sweet Home New Orleans has written some thought-provoking letters, one of which I published in my blog last week, which was echoed in a letter published in today’s Times-Picayune.She mentions the need for clear-cut rules for enforcement of laws related to music decibel levels, permitting, and city zoning, which currently allows a music venue to be grandfathered in, if it’s been in existence for a certain number of years. Otherwise, zoning requires that music venue operators acquire an exception for live entertainment.
The two apparent sides of the fence-the pro-music and anti-music groups-cannot seem to come to a compromise to solve the issues that plague and threaten to destroy live music in New Orleans, a city where live music is part and parcel of the city’s cultural appeal for residents and for visitors.It’s also apparent that the city has a real problem with enforcement even the existing byzantine laws related to noise enforcement and other issues related to entertainment zones. But then, this has ever been the case.
It’s even worse now because we simply do not have a large enough police force to provide the necessary manpower to regulate both the criminal and “quality of life” issues such as illegal vendors, noise violations, litter, and parking. In fact, the quality of life enfcrcement is looked at by Frenchmen Street businesses as somewhat of a joke. There just are not enough police, or not enough to give the Marigny or Bywater adequate attention. Bourbon Street, an established “entertainment” area, claims the lion’s share of NOPD. We apparently still have a misperception that Frenchmen Street, lower Decatur and St. Claude Avenue aren’t as demanding as Bourbon. How do we solve the issues of not enough police officers to do the job?
Then there are issues regarding music “noise” that could potentially be addressed by requiring music venues to possess certain levels of sound-proofing materials and the installation of sound-reduction techniques. While this would certainly be financially burdensome on entertainment businesses, why couldn’t the city offer a tax incentive for these businesses to obtain and install sound reduction?
Kevin Combs, a long-time OffBeat reader and friend in Texas, sent me an astounding article that described the introduction of tax breaks for the presentation of live music. What? Tax breaks for presenting live music?
Now, that’s progress. Live music in New Orleans is certainly an economic driver, right? Can we agree on that, City Council and Mayor? Can’t we be as progressive?