Updated Round Rock noise ordinance takes effect

The City of Round Rock will be a little quieter starting this week as an updated noise ordinance takes effect.

From Monday to Wednesday, police will measure noise if they receive a complaint.

Starting Thursday, and through the weekend, there will be officers measuring noise at bars as part of a targeted enforcement. 

“We think that this is something that, come this weekend, hopefully, will make a big difference,” said Sara Bustilloz, spokesperson for the City of Round Rock. 

After a year of research, public meetings and tests, city officials  will find out if their new noise ordinance can keep the peace between business owners and neighbors. 

“This is going to create more certainty for both the businesses, for residents who may be calling in and for our officers who are going to be enforcing this,” Bustilloz said. 

Under the new ordinance, any business that plays music outside must obtain a yearly permit from the city to operate as an outdoor music venue. Sound from permitted businesses cannot measure higher than 80 decibels From 10 am to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and 10 am to midnight Friday and Saturday That’s about as loud as a garbage disposal. 

All other times, noise can not exceed 60 decibels, closer to the sound of an air conditioner. 

Business owners said it’s not necessarily the noise limit that’s so tough, it’s where the measurement is being taken. 

“It really affects us because, the difference is, they are measuring the noise from the property line as opposed to 200 feet away,” said Michelle Ly, who owns two bars on Main Street.  

“That gives us a much better idea of what residents are going to be hearing in the residential section of downtown,” Bustilloz said.  

Ly said neither of her bars have been in violation of the previous ordinance, but measurements in the alley behind The Alcove have been tricky.

“We are sitting between 80 and 88 at our peak times,” said Ly. 

“So we’re having to tell our bands to turn it down a little bit so we can comply,” Ly added. 

If a business is fined or cited three times in any given year, they can have their outdoor music venue permit revoked. They then could not reapply for a year. 

“We’ll continue to self test and just make sure we keep the volume at a reasonable level,” said Ly.