City staff to delay bringing ‘agent of change’ proposal to City Council

Fans cheer for Beach Slang at Sidewinder during South by Southwest on Wednesday March 16, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

After music industry groups pushed back against a proposal to repeal and replace the city’s sound ordinance, city staffers have decided not to bring it to City Council next week.

“It is our understanding that a group of stakeholders would like to work together to develop alternative recommendations,” Alex Lopez, deputy director of the city’s Economic Development Department said on Friday morning.

The repeal and replace ordinance was designed to incorporate an agent of change principle, the idea that an existing business should be protected from pressures against its operations from newer actors who move in nearby. In other words, the burden of soundproofing falls to the condo or hotel that builds next to a live music venue, if the live music venue was there first.

It also introduced a new entertainment license for outdoor music venues that would extend the renewal period from one year to two.

But music industry groups say they didn’t realize implementing the new policies would lead to a full rewrite of the city’s sound code, which advocacy group Austin Music People’s executive chairman, Bobby Garza, described as “the ordinance that underpins the absolute health of the entire music ecosystem.” They also worried that the measures didn’t go far enough to protect venues.

Rebecca Reynolds, director of the Music Venue Alliance Austin, another industry advocacy group, plans to assemble an informal working group that includes representatives from the music industry, the hotel industry and neighborhood associations to examine the policy in more detail over the summer.


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