Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Opposition to the "Noise" Ordinance

Good evening, Councilmembers Clarkson, Guidry, and Head,

My name is Patrick Armstrong, and I am a voter in District A. I am a full-time worker in New Orleans, and not only do I enjoy watching and dancing to the wide variety of music on display any day of the week in this town, but I play guitar and sing - sometimes on my porch, sometimes in a band with friends of mine. Having read the text of the proposed noise ordinance, having followed this issue closely for years (I first became interested when the NOPD began shooing brass bands from French Quarter streets), and having read the many articles and opinion posts of various stakeholders regarding the proposed ordinance, I have come to the informed conclusion that this proposed ordinance goes too far in restricting expressions of music and will not be good for the city. I know musicians who will suffer economically because of this ordinance, and I know people who will be restricted from enjoying the rich musical heritage that people all over the world find synonymous with New Orleans.
I am also concerned that the draft of this ordinance ignores the findings of David Woolworth, whose study was commissioned by the city for the very purpose of crafting an ordinance that could support the desires of many community stakeholders. Why pay for a two year study to find consensus solutions only to ignore the findings and propose an ordinance crafted by those who represent more narrow interests? Especially when those narrow interests claimed more support from neighborhood organizations than they actually had! Doing so only raises questions about the legitimacy of this process, and the ordinance as proposed. 

Finally, I moved to New Orleans in 2006 because this was a place where you can have a real job while still enjoying, dancing to, or playing music any day of the week. In this city, you don't have to choose one or the other. That is a special atmosphere that not many cities have, and it would be a terrible shame to legislate that richness of place away. If I wanted to live in a sleepy small town or a quiet Atlanta suburb where the only thing I had the option of hearing on a given evening is the sound of my own television, I wouldn't live in New Orleans. 

Please find something better to put on the books than the ordinance that was brought forward today.