HB 789 Call to Action

Tomorrow afternoon, while the noise ordinance is before New Orleans City Council, HB 789 will be up before the House Municipal, Parochial & Cultural Affairs Committee. This is the bill that authorizes the City Council to increase fines for violation of any ordinance to $5000. The current max is $500.  This law applies only to Orleans Parish.

HB 789 was initiated by VCPORA/FQC. It is not the Mayor’s legislation.  The lame duck City Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting HB 789. This is part of the VCPORA strategy to turn New Orleans into a boutique city and was part of the failed “Seven Essentials” noise ordinance plan. Now that “criminal” charges are being removed from the noise ordinance, they want to impose crippling fines.  Can you imagine the impact of a $5,000 per person fine on a nine piece brass band?  That’s $45,000, in a city where the average musician makes just over $17.000 a year.

PLEASE ACT RIGHT NOW!

We need EVERYONE to please contact the following legislators by email and tell them that this is BAD legislation. HB708 will hurt businesses, visitors and residents.

Email Representative Helena Moreno at morenoh@legis.la.gov  and let her know that we are opposed to excessive FINES that will serve as another tool to beat up street musicians, businesses, residents and visitors. Representative Moreno is being used by a small group of the same FQ residents (VCPORA/FQC) who are using every possible angle to achieve their misguided objectives.

Members of the House Municipal, Parochial & Cultural Affairs Committee

CALL OR EMAIL EACH ONE!

CALL THE REPS RIGHT NOW ON HOUSE FLOOR: (225) 342-6945

Badon, Austin larep100@legis.la.gov (504)243-7783-Chairman
Barras, Taylor F. barrast@legis.la.gov (337)373-4051-Vice Chairman
Barrow, Regina larep029@legis.la.gov (225)359-9400
Berthelot, John A. berthelotj@legis.la.gov (225)647-5646
Billiot, Robert E. billiotr@legis.la.gov (504)436-8929
Bishop, Wesley T. bishopw@legis.la.gov (504)242-4198
Brossett, Jared brossettj@legis.la.gov (504)286-1033
Brown, Terry R. browntr@legis.la.gov (855)261-6566
Burrell, Roy larep002@legis.la.gov (318)676-7137
Danahay, Michael E. danahaym@legis.la.gov (337)527-5581
Havard, Kenneth E. havardk@legis.la.gov (225)634-7470
Honoré, Dalton honored@legis.la.gov (225)771-5674
Norton, Barbara M. nortonb@legis.la.gov (318)632-5887
Ortego, Stephen J. ortegos@legis.la.gov (337)886-4687
Pugh, Stephen E. pughs@legis.la.gov (985)386-7844
Willmott, Thomas P. willmott@legis.la.gov (504)465-3479
Woodruff, Ebony woodruffe@legis.la.gov (504)361-6972
Send each one an email or call their office (this is effective) asking them to vote against HB 789. Use one or more of the following Talking Points or make up your own.

1. Orleans Parish residents and visitors should not be subjected to higher fines than those in other parishes.

2.  HB 789 Applies to All Laws in the City. If HB 789 becomes law,

the City can impose a $5000 fine for the violation of ANY city

ordinance (except traffic cameras). For example, you let your grass

grow too high, $5000 FINE; you put your trash out too early, $5000

FINE.

3. HB 789 Applies to EVERYONE: Visitors and Residents. Visitors

as well as residents will be subject to these EXCESSIVE fines. We

really shouldn’t pop our visitors and conventioneers when they visit

the city, and we certainly shouldn’t do this to our residents and

businesses.

4. Bad Precedent. Allowing this to happen sets a very bad precedent.

The other 360 local jurisdictions in Louisiana will be asking for the

same authority soon.

5. Just Another Tax on the People Who Can’t Afford It. Anyone can

see that this is just another tax disguised as a penalty for violating

very minor ordinances.

6. This is BAD POLITICS.  It was initiated by a very small group of people in

the French Quarter who want to create a public revenue stream for

their personal civic objectives.

..WE NEED 9 VOTES TO KILL THIS BILL!!

 

THIS ONLY WORKS IF EVERYONE MAKES A SIMPLE, PHONE/EMAIL CONTACT WITH ALL OF THE ABOVE LEGISLATORS.

 

ALSO, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD….

Last Chance to Help Pass Revisions to the Sound Ordinance

Passage Could Be in Jeopardy

Contact the City Council Now

We’ve been hearing rumors the vote on the revisions to the Sound Ordinance could be very close.  Passage would be a big step forward for New Orleans musicians and greater cultural community, as it would not only decriminalize violations of the sound ordinance, it would also eliminate the unconstitutional curfew on street musicians.

If you haven’t already, please e-mail the City Council NOW and tell them you support the revisions to New Orleans Sound Ordinance.  All e-mails must be received by the Council before 10AM Thursday morning.  We need every e-mail we can get.

KEEP UP WITH THE CITY COUNCIL DEBATE THURSDAY

You can view Thursday’s City Council proceedings at http://www.nolacitycouncil.com/video/video_legislative.asp, and MaCCNO will live-tweet highlights at http://twitter.com/musicculture504. Check in around 2PM for the debate. We will update on Twitter if the time or circumstances change.

VCPORA Trying to Kill Positive Changes to Sound Ordinance – Help Us Ensure New Revisions Pass

We need your help!  As you no doubt recall, under cover of the holidays, VCPORA and their allies attempted to pass their poorly written, one-sided revisions to New Orleans’ Sound Ordinance.  Thanks to your massive protests and backlash, these revisions, which would have deeply damaged both our culture and cultural economy, were taken off the table.

Following this withdrawal, MaCCNO helped lead the way in demanding that a new, open, inclusive, science-based and solution-oriented process be used to draft any further updates or revisions to the Sound Ordinance. That process has happened, in the form of community meetings led by the French Quarter Management District, ‘sound walks’ with sound-scientist Dave Woolworth showcasing real time decibel readings to uncover the reality of the sonic landscape, and, most importantly, a narrowing of the focus to discuss the unique needs and characteristics of Bourbon St.  As a result, a new much more favorable set of revisions to the Sound Ordinance have been drafted, and they are heartening example of how a good process can lead to a good law.

MaCCNO supports this new set of revisions to the Sound Ordinance, which is up for a vote in City Council this Thursday, the 24th at 10AM, and we are asking you to express your support for it as well.  Not only do these revisions set realistic, achievable and enforceable decibel limits on Bourbon St, but they also help solve a number of long standing issues that have been plaguing the cultural community for decades.  This ordinance actually DE-CRIMINALIZES violations of the Sound Ordinance, moving them from criminal to civil violations (Music Is Not A Crime!),  lifts the unconstitutional 8pm ban on playing musical instruments in the streets city wide, and introduces sound measurement rubrics and sound measurement placements which are a major step in the right direction.  It also broadens exemptions for traditional cultural practices such as Mardi Gras Indians and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs.  Many of these changes are directly in line with MaCCNO’s proposed ‘Noise Ordinance For All New Orleanians’, as well as the findings of Dave Woolworth.

Thought these revisions may still need some minor adjustments, these revisions are a remarkable step in the right direction, and therefore, not surprisingly, VCPORA and their allies are trying to kill them.  They are currently undertaking their usual round of fear-mongering and misinformation, and are rallying their supporters to stop these fair and forward thinking amendments.

We need you to tell your Council members that you support this fair, inclusive process, you support the culture of New Orleans, and that you support these forward thinking revisions to New Orleans’ Sound Ordinance.

Remember to e-mail all council members, not just your district!

A NOISE ORDINANCE FOR ALL NEW ORLEANIANS

Introduction: The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (a community group composed of musicians, cultural workers and bearers, residents, and business owners) offer the following principals for a noise ordinance that works for all New Orleanians. This ordinance must be crafted in consultation with musicians, cultural workers, community groups, residents, business owners, and professional sound scientists. Such a policy must also receive ample public hearing.

Preamble: Music and performance are the backbone of our city and they drive our local economy. Live
music draws millions of tourists to the city every year, attracts new residents and investments, and enhances real estate values in neighborhoods of cultural and musical vibrancy. A comprehensive noise ordinance that threatens the distinctiveness of New Orleans threatens our quality of life, the long-term economic growth of the city, and the everyday ability of thousands of our residents to earn an income. For New Orleanians, quality of life includes recognizing the interests of performers, residents (both owners and renters), businesses, and visitors in a manner that honors our culture bearers and the traditions—new and old—that comprise our city’s most important asset.

LOCALIZED DECISION MAKING: While a citywide noise ordinance provides necessary coherence, blanket regulations are inappropriate and do not recognize the unique characteristics present in our neighborhoods. Regulations should be appropriate to the individual character and soundscapes of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, communities, and traditions. Such policies must be created and enforced with the input of residents, neighborhood associations, businesses, performers and cultural workers.

MEDIATION, NOT CRIMINALIZATION: Noise complaints should lead to a formalized mediation process rooted in the involvement of concerned residents, neighborhood and community groups, affected performers, cultural workers, and local businesses. Criminalizing live music is neither a good neighbor policy nor a good economic policy in a city that thrives on the availability, diversity, and innovation of performance.

PROFESSIONAL ENFORCEMENT AND EDUCATION: New Orleans needs a dedicated office directed with handling noise complaints that is both accessible and accountable. It is integral that this office be tasked with providing outreach to residents, businesses, performers, cultural workers, and other members of the cultural community about rules and regulations. This office must also take the lead in starting and fostering any mediation necessary to bring all involved parties to a mutually satisfying resolution of issues.

CLARITY OF STREET PERFORMANCE PARAMETERS: Hours of performance and sound levels for street musicians and other performers may require legal and enforceable regulation, but these regulations
should not threaten New Orleans’ reputation as a city that nurtures music, performance, and cultural innovation. Regulation on street performance must be crafted in consultation with performers themselves as well as residents and businesses. Once determined, hours and levels should be clearly posted on streets and online. Furthermore, all involved parties should have access to training and workshops regarding these regulations to ensure a common knowledge and understanding of the issues should the need for mediation arise.

HONORING TRADITION AND INNOVATION: Traditional cultural practices including but not limited to
Jazz Funerals, Second Lines, street performance, Mardi Gras Indian practices, parades, and gatherings
should be explicitly encouraged and protected in the language of any final ordinance. These traditions lie
at the core of our city’s culture and its economic growth, and the need to preserve and maintain the
importance of these treasures must be considered at the heart of any mediation efforts.

Proposal to Raise Fines For Ordinance Violations from $500 to $5000

The New Orleans City Council voted 6-0 to endorse a proposal by State Rep. Helena Moreno and also sponsored by State Seator J.P. Morrell to increase the maximum fines for violators of any ordinance from $500 to $5000.  According to the article, “Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, who also supports the bill, said the new limit could have a wide-ranging effect on penalties spelled out in city ordinances, including future fines connected to blighted properties and to the controversial sound ordinance that the Landrieu administration and the council are drafting.”

Bourbon Street Sound Ordinance at Committee Monday 4/21, Council Thursday 4/24

The Bourbon Street Sound Ordinance will be discussed at the Housing and Human Needs Committee on Monday, April 21st, 10 AM in City Council Chambers.  It will then very likely be voted on at the Council Meeting on Thursday, also 10AM in Council Chambers.  This particular ordinance focuses on the Vieux Carre Entertainment District (VCE) which runs along Bourbon St. from Iberville to St. Ann.   MaCCNO has reviewed the ordinance, and it follows the recommendations of Dave Woolworth, the sound expert hired by the City, closely.  We encourage all MaCCNO members to attend the meetings and provide public comment if they wish.  In our review, we found three items we want to ensure are adopted.

1) The exemptions for jazz funerals or similar cultural traditions, practices or rituals (e.g. Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, Mardi Gras Indians) must be maintained and the language in the draft ordinance unchanged.

2) Enforcement must be the process recommended in the Woolworth report, which includes a warning followed by a mandatory re-check, rather than an immediate fine.

3) Enforcement must be by the Health Department, rather than the NOPD, and there must be funding to ensure it remains there.

You can read the full ordinance here, and see Woolworth’s full report and appendix here and here.

Next MACCNO Meeting – Wednesday, April 23, 6PM – Seahorse Saloon

The next MaCCNO meeting will be Wednesday, April 23, 6PM at the Seahorse Saloon, 1648 Gentilly Blvd. We will be discussing the Bourbon St. Sound Ordinance (which will be voted on at the Council Meeting on Thursday), the possibility of raising fines from $500 to $5000, and the move to limit uses on Bayou St. John–including festivals and cultural events.

Bourbon Street Sound Ordinance Released

The ‘Bourbon Street Sound Ordinance’ had its first read at the City Council meeting today. It covers the first six blocks of Bourbon St from Canal, which is zoned as Vieux Carre Entertainment (VCE). There will likely be public comment at the Housing and Human Needs Committee meeting on the 21st, and then a vote by the council on the 24th. Review the proposed legislation and let your city council member know how you feel about the issues at hand.

Mayor Landrieu Launches His Own Noise Ordinance Review

Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently launched his own noise ordinance review process, separate from the current City Council led effort that is currently focused on Bourbon St.  Landrieu has met separately with four groups of stakeholders–musicians, small business owners, tourism officials, and residents.  Select representatives from each of these groups are then supposed to attend a follow up meeting, which could then lead to recommendations to changes in the noise ordinance.

MaCCNO Coordinator Ethan Ellestad was at the meeting held for musicians.  Also present were Irvin Mayfield, Ellis Marsalis, Big Chief Howard Miller, Tim Laughlin, Craig Klein of Bonerama, lawyer and advocate Ashlye Keaton, Fred Johnson and Todd Higgins of the Black Men of Labor, several members of the Young Fellaz Brass Band (among others), Scott Hutcheson from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, and of course the Mayor himself.  A number of other musicians were invited, but could not make it due to schedule conflicts.  The discussion was wide ranging, focusing on issues such as different needs for different neighborhoods, curfew times, mutual respect among musicians, and zoning, permitting and enforcement issues.  No decisions were made, as it was a listening session only.  It is currently unclear if and when there will be a follow up meeting, and who will represent musicians in the larger group.

MaCCNO will provide more information when we receive it, and if you were at one of the other meetings, please send us a report.