Austin/ Fun & Entertainment
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Published on April 03, 2024
Austin Music Venues and Developers Find Harmony with New 'Agent of Change' MeasuresSource: Ron Baker (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kingsnake), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Music venues and new neighbors in the city may start to play a better tune together, thanks to new measures getting the nod from the Music Commission. The proposed 'agent of change' principle, as detailed in an exclusive by the Austin Monitor, is designed to prevent noise disputes that have cranked up to eleven in recent years.

Under the revised guidelines, developers planning new digs within 600 feet of an outdoor music hotspot will need to conduct sound tests amidst full-blown concerts to gauge potential noise levels for would-be residents. This data is then expected to be music to the ears of future tenants or homeowners as it must be disclosed during the buying or leasing process. The City Council is set to hit play on this ordinance come late May, which, if passed, would put the onus on developers rather than venues to sort out soundproofing solutions.

Entertainment districts and high-rise housing have been stepping on each other's toes, with tempers flaring over noise complaints that drown out the once-harmonious urban melody. The 'agent of change' concept initially sought to amplify the responsibility of new developments to dial down the discord. However, legal challenges struck a sour note, leading to a reverb of inaction since 2018.

Brian Block, entertainment services manager at the Development Services Department, pitched the current proposal as a hands-off duet with the development review process. "The intent is to kind of have as light a touch as possible," Brian said, according to the Austin Monitor, aiming to strike a chord with ongoing housing affordability and supply concerns.

With an online meeting set to face the music and earn public feedback today, followed by further board presentations, all eyes – and ears – are on the May 30 City Council meeting. Pedro Carvalho, Music Commissioner and owner of Far Out Lounge sang the praises of the measure, "It's a good step towards a much more prosperous future in music and the music ecosystem in town," he told the Austin Monitor.