Austin city leaders speak out against proposed amplified sound bill

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Austin City Council members, residents, and venue owners are speaking out against House Bill 3813, authored by state Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine).

Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria, Council Member Kathie Tovo, local sound expert John Malenson, and Austin resident Angela Hovis spoke at an afternoon news conference at ACL Live.


Those against House Bill 3813 say the bill seeks to strip local communities of their ability to broker agreements between Austin residential communities and venues and regulate amplified sound. They say it would negatively impact the Austin economy and residential community alike.

"This is a bill that would remove for cities of our size, the ability to be able to set local sound ordinance regulations," said Adler.

The city said Monday the state has no business regulating what local venues want to do in cities the size of Austin and larger. The bill focuses particularly on sounds above 85 decibels and applies only to cities with 750,000 people or more. Residents living in entertainment districts said they have heard noises way above that.


"I’ve regularly measured sound levels of over 120 and 130 dB. I love loud music, I love live music, I’m a rock and roller but where I live is a cacophony of sound," said Melanson.

Hovis lives near West 6th Street. She said sleep has been hard to come by some late nights for many of her neighbors. "It is very important that we control enforcement of how loud places can be because they have been illegally amplifying for a number of years," she said.

Bar owner Bob Woody said he loves Austin's culture of live music and vows to keep it going. "I spend more than $5,000 a week on live music, paying bands through my businesses on 6th Street in Austin. If you take the $5,000 and multiply it out, it works out to be $260,000 a year," he said.

He believes the negotiations and rulemaking should be kept in the hands of cities, owners, and residents because every city is unique. "One size doesn’t fit all," said Woody.

Ultimately, city leaders are hoping legislators can listen to not only their concerns but the community's concerns about amplified music.