The Austin City Council voted yesterday to extend the hours that live music can be played outdoors on Red River Street for a six-month trial period, the Austin American Statesman reports.
The new regulations will allow amplified loud music to happen until midnight on Thursdays and 1am on weekends, which is an hour later than the current regulations. The council voted 9-1 for the change, with one member, Delia Garza, abstaining from the vote.
The first proposal was to allow live music until 1:30am on the weekends for an entire year. However, the compromise was reached after the Interim Police Chief requested the change to 1 am to allow police to manage Red River and still get to Sixth Street when the bars close at 2am. The council decided to pilot the new 12am/1am curfew from May to November, and then make a decision whether to extend it by six months.
The study is intended to gather information on how the extra hours could help fill the music venues’ nearly empty coffers and how the extra noise impacts neighbors. Accordingly, they will study the economic impact and noise complaints collected.
Nearby hotel owners came out to protest the change, saying they already received a huge volume of complaints from guests. The hotels are getting an increased volume of corporate guests who expect to be able to sleep at night.
On the other hand, the owners and managers of the bars in the district said that extending hours would help them make money and would give the city a chance to study where noise complaints are coming from to see more clearly what areas are affected the most.
The manager of the Mohawk said that the longer hours would mean larger audiences and as much as 10 percent bigger monthly revenue for venues. The general manager of Stubb’s Bar-B-Q said that the change would allow him to have more outdoor shows and increase his number of employees substantially. Every show needs 65 employees.
Council members expressed concerns, including that the six month period wouldn’t include SXSW and therefore might not give an accurate picture of what changes the extended hours would result in. Another member was worried that they wouldn’t get any new information from the pilot and it would be difficult to change back to the shorter hours after the six months was over. Yet another member, Ora Houston, voted against the ordinance because she didn’t like pilot programs because they tend to become permanent. She used the Short Term Rental ordinance as an example. Language was added to the ordinance to make sure the benefit to musicians, club employees, and other related personnel was measured as well.
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