Aug 28, 2023 - News

Houston clamps down on noisy nightclub

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Houston's new and improved noise ordinance appears to be doing its job.

Driving the news: Houston police have written more than 100 noise nuisance citations to Fourth Ward nightclub El Poblado since the updated ordinance went into effect in September 2022, the first major case of an alleged repeat violator under the new rules.

Why it matters: Neighbors of bars and nightclubs with music blaring late into the night have complained to the city for years about the problem, which the city addressed by beefing up its noise ordinance last year.

  • At-large City Council member Sallie Alcorn said at the time that new rules, procedures and enhanced fines had finally given the ordinance some teeth.

Catch up quick: The nightclub is accused of playing music too loudly and into the night while neighbors struggled to sleep, according to Alcorn.

  • After an administrative hearing in May — at which representatives of the establishment failed to show — the city revoked the nightclub's outdoor noise permit.

Yes, but: Even after its permit was revoked, El Poblado allegedly kept playing music well into the night, racking up even more citations.

  • The city eventually sued El Poblado in state district court.

What happened: Judge Fredericka Phillips issued a temporary injunction in the case earlier this month.

  • The injunction bars the nightclub from playing music outdoors until it can reapply for the proper permits. That won't be until at least May 2024, according to court documents.

What they're saying: "This [injunction] should put repeat violators on notice that the city is serious about enforcing the noise ordinance," Alcorn said Friday. "We will hold repeat violators accountable."

  • "More importantly, this news should give residents who have suffered far too long from excessive noise coming from these bars some hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

The other side: The owner of the bar, Sanchez Burnside, attended Alcorn's Friday press conference.

  • "Since we're in the courts, I'm going to let it play out there," Burnside said. "We've accepted a [temporary injunction]. I'm aware. We made all of the arrangements that we had, and we're going to abide by the rules."

Burnside said the indoor parts of his club will remain open as normal.

What we're watching: A trial is scheduled for next July.


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