Sep 7, 2022 - News

Houston's new noise ordinance is now in effect

Sallie Alcorn, a Houston city council member, speaks at a podium during a press conference
Houston City Council Member Sallie Alcorn praised the new ordinance at a press conference yesterday. Photo: Julia Ossemi-Seied/City of Houston

Houston's new noise ordinance is now in effect.

Driving the news: Bars and venues that play amplified sound within 300 feet of a residence are now required to obtain a special permit.

  • Noise levels from those venues must be below certain decibels after 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends.
  • No venue within 300 feet of a residence can play amplified sound after 2am.
  • Fines for violating the noise ordinance are $2,000.

Catch up quick: Houston City Council passed the new noise ordinance in May after nearly two years of work.

  • Sallie Alcorn, one of five at-large city council members, championed the new rules after hearing numerous complaints from those who live near loud clubs.

What they're saying: Alcorn and a cadre of council members and police praised the new ordinance at a press conference yesterday.

  • "This situation is very common in Houston, a city with no zoning … where people live close to establishments that play music into the night," Alcorn said. "Houston needs a robust night-time economy. Bars and clubs are important to our city. Most are really good actors and add to the vibrant Houston food and drink scene."
  • "But there are some who repeatedly disregard their neighbors and the city's rules," Alcorn said. "I've heard stories of people whose lives have been completely disrupted by loud noise and the constant thump, thump, thump of bass music into the wee hours of the morning."

Details: Under the new rules, the city will issue permits to establishments as opposed to individuals.

  • Previously, if a venue violated the noise ordinance, an individual was cited and fined $1,000.
  • This made it difficult to track which bars were the worst violators because another individual employee or DJ could be permitted to play and potentially break the rules again at the same venue.

Of note: Houston police also now have a special noise unit that roams the most popular nightlife blocks.

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