Bourbon Heat, the bar at 711 Bourbon Street, was recently fined $500 for being a “public nuisance” based on complaints from neighbors about the club. Strict sanctions were handed down requiring the venue to keep its doors closed, not use speakers in its courtyard, and prohibiting barkers in the street. Doors and windows are also required to be closed whenever the bar plays amplified music in its upstairs bar. All of these things are requirements that are not required of any other Bourbon Street venue.
In an email, the Vieux Carre Property Owners & Residents Association called the ruling by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABO) a “major victory” in their efforts to stop noise in the Quarter and praised its members by saying that “It’s because of you that we can be the watchdog that follows an issue like this for years…and be vigilant about protecting and preserving the French Quarter as a neighborhood where businesses and residents can co-exist as they have for almost 300 years.”
“This is selective enforcement,” said Angelo Farrell, owner of Bourbon Heat. “I don’t even know if this ruling is constitutional. I think it’s totally wrong. From a businessman’s standpoint, for a ruling like that, it’s not a good representation of what New Orleans is all about. You can spend millions of dollars to renovate property, and make a business, and produce tens of thousands of dollars in sales taxes, create jobs, and then 20 or 30 people can sign a petition, and they can literally shut you down. God help Bourbon Street if the ruling sticks and they force me to do this; it will be a negative wave down Bourbon Street and it will have a major impact on the business on Bourbon.”
The French Quarter Management District will host a public forum on changes to the proposed noise ordinance that focuses on speaker placement issues next Thursday, March 29, at 1 p.m. at the North Ballroom, Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon Street. The resident civic groups and the business groups have been invited to attend. Councilman Gisleson Palmer will attend and will respond to questions. The forum is open to the public.
The ordinance as drafted applies only to Vieux Carre and CBD, but this is an opportunity for anyone with views on the ordinance to be heard. The text of the proposed changes to the ordinance are shown below:
AN ORDINANCE to amend and re-ordain Article IV, Sections 66-136 and to ordain 66-209 of Chapter 66 of the Code of the City of New Orleans in order to provide a definition for commercial enterprises with respect to noise-related ordinances and to establish placement of loudspeakers in commercial enterprises within the Vieux Carré Historic Districts and the Central Business Districts, and all subdivisions related thereto.
SECTION 1. THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS HEREBY ORDAINS, that Article IV, Section 66-136 of Chapter 66 of the Code of the City of New Orleans is hereby amended and reordained to read as follows:
“Sec. 66-136 – Definitions. The following words, terms, and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
* * *
Commercial enterprise means any enterprise that sells goods or provides services, including but not limited to, selling or providing novelties, t-shirts, food, or beverages.
* * *”
SECTION 2. THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS HEREBY ORDAINS, that Article IV, Section 66-209 of Chapter 66 of the Code of the City of New Orleans is hereby amended and ordained to read as follows:
“Sec. 66-209 – Placement of Loudspeakers.
These regulations govern the placement of loudspeakers by commercial enterprises operated within the Vieux Carré Historic Districts and the Central Business Districts.
Each of the following is a “responsible party” for assuring compliance on the premises of a commercial enterprise governed by these regulations:
An owner of the premises;
A manager of the premises;
Any person controlling the volume of a sound amplification device on the premises, including but not limited to disc jockeys;
Any person named in the occupational license for the premises; or
The commercial enterprise.
A responsible party for any commercial enterprise governed by these regulations must assure compliance with the following requirements regarding placement of loudspeaker operated by the enterprise or any person described in Section 66-209(b):
In commercial enterprises, loudspeakers must be located not beyond the interior walls of the building and shall not be oriented in such a way that the face of the loudspeaker points in the direction of any door, window, or other opening. Loudspeakers shall not have any openings on the back or side that project sound.
For commercial enterprises that hold a Class A alcoholic beverage permit so that they are lawfully permitted, whether a permanent or temporary permit, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises:
Loudspeakers or any person playing a musical instrument must be located in the interior of the building and must be located at a distance greater or equal to ten (10) feet from any door, window, or other opening; or
If a loudspeaker or any person playing a musical instrument is located less than ten (10) feet from any window, door, or opening, then all windows, doors, or openings must remain closed during the hours of operation. In the event that a door subject to this section constitutes an emergency fire exit that is required to remain open during hours of operation then the Fire Marshal, pursuant to city and state law, may exempt such door from the operation of this section. Written documentation issued by the Office of State Fire Marshal of such authorized exemption must be located at the commercial enterprise and must be available upon request.
For commercial enterprises that do not hold a Class A type alcoholic beverage permit so that they are not lawfully permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises:
All loudspeakers must be located in the interior of the building at a distance greater or equal to twenty (20) feet from any window, door, or other opening.
Penalties. A responsible party is subject to the following penalties upon a finding of a violation of these regulations at the commercial enterprise:
For a first violation, a fine of up to $250.
For a second violation within 12 months, a fine of up to $500.
For a third violation within 12 months, a fine of $500, a two-day closure of the premises, or both.
For a fourth violation within 12 months, a fine of $500, and a two-day closure of premises, one day of which shall be a Friday.
Severance. If any subsection, sentence, clause, or phrase of this section is held invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, it shall in no way affect the validity of any remaining portions of this section.”