The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association has formulated the following comments and position, and we appreciate your consideration:
OUTDOOR LIVE ENTERTAINMENT STUDY
PURPOSE OF THE CZO VIS ITS CITIZENS AND NEIGHBORHOODS
As stated in the first article of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO), the purpose of it is, amongst other objectives:
▪ To encourage and promote, in accordance with present and future needs, the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the City of New Orleans.
▪ To preserve and enhance the value of structures, communities, and neighborhoods that constitute the distinct places within the city.
▪ To promote the principles of sustainabilitity.
The Faubourg Marigny, along with Tremé and Bywater, are further protected in the document under the designation of Historic Core Neighborhood Districts. The stated purpose of the residential aspect of the Marigny/Treme/Bywater District is as follows:
The … Historic Marigny/Tremé/Bywater Residential District is intended to protect existing residential development and to maintain a desirable character of such development within the historic Marigny/Tremé/Bywater areas. Incompatible uses are excluded from this residential district. Rehabilitation, renovation, and adaptive reuse particularly of historically significant buildings are encouraged. (Article 9 Historic Core Neighborhoods Residential Districts)
The best way to protect and maintain the desirable character of these historic neighborhoods is to closely regulate outdoor live entertainment. Sound travels. That is an indisputable fact. Another indisputable fact is that no mitigation efforts will eliminate the transmission of outdoor sound, thus exposing neighboring homes and yards to the effects of such sound. The nearer the homes and yards, the louder the sound. Again, indisputable.
CITIZENS, NEIGHBORHOODS AND LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
If the past foretells the future, then the City Planning Commission staff report will lean heavily in favor of tourist-oriented business despite the CZO. The CZO attempts to balance the needs of residential and commercial uses. In Article 10, the stated purpose of the Historic Marigny/Treme/Bywater Commercial Districts are as follows:
▪ The HMC-1 Historic Marigny/Tremé/Bywater Commercial District is intended to provide for restricted retail stores and service establishments that will attract tourists and local residents without adversely affecting either the character of the historic Marigny/Tremé/Bywater area or nearby residences.
▪ The HMC-2 Historic Marigny/Tremé/Bywater Commercial District is intended to permit more intensive commercial uses than the HMC-1 District, yet protect the historic character of the Marigny/Tremé/Bywater area. The district includes the peripheral properties in Marigny/Tremé/Bywater that front on major traffic arteries and can provide access for more intense commercial uses
▪ The HM-MU Historic Marigny/Tremé/Bywater Mixed-Use District is intended to provide a mixed-use environment of light industrial, commercial, and residential uses that would not adversely affect the historic character of the neighborhood. Compatibility of such uses and structures with one another and with the area is encouraged through the development review process.
Currently, Live Entertainment-Secondary Use is not allowed in HMC-1, is a conditional use in HMC-2 further limited to one per block face and is also a conditional use in HM-MU. (see CZO Table 10-1)
Further attempts to define and balance the interests of residents, tourists and businesses in the Marigny and Treme are addressed by the CZO in Article 18 Overlay Zoning Districts. The stated purpose of the Arts and Culture Diversity Overlay District is as follows:
The AC-1 Arts and Culture Diversity Overlay District is intended to accommodate a limited number of live entertainment uses, but with additional permissions to sustain established and promote new arts and cultural uses, including a limited number of small-scale live entertainment venues in neighborhood business or mixed-use areas. The AC-1 Diversity Overlay District seeks to maintain and reinforce small-scale uses and a balance of daytime and night-time uses that are compatible with the character of surrounding residential neighborhoods. (Article 18.2.G)
Repeatedly, the CZO calls for balance, limits and small scale in addressing businesses, including tourist oriented ones, in Historic Core Neighborhoods. Expanding the scope of Live Entertainment is certainly not in the best interests of the residents of these neighborhoods, upsets the existing balance and distorts their historic character.
THE CZO AND OUTDOOR LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
The CZO has many definitions, requirements and restrictions on live entertainment. Many of these address the issue of sound mitigation, and specify closing windows and doors, etc. On the subject of outdoor live entertainment, it is conspicuously sparse. Only in the AC-1 Overlay District (encompassing Frenchmen St., St. Bernard Ave. and Broad St.) does it mention outdoor music, in a restaurant as a conditional use, and again in Art. 20 as conditional use within 30 ft. of a residential neighborhood. Period.
a. Musical accompaniment for patrons at a restaurant (standard or specialty), in conformance with the following use standards:
7. Musical accompaniment shall only be performed in the interior of a restaurant; outdoor musical accompaniment shall be subject to the general Live Entertainment – Secondary Use regulations, as applicable.
20.3.JJ LIVE ENTERTAINMENT – SECONDARY USE AND LIVE PERFORMANCE VENUE
2. Live entertainment – secondary use and live performance venues shall submit a sound abatement plan, to be reviewed by the Director of Safety and Permits, and all other appropriate City agencies, which shall address the intended use of amplification, sound levels, and need for soundproofing. Outdoor live entertainment areas located within thirty (30) feet of a residential district shall be a conditional use.
Clearly, the intent is that outdoor music is to be rarely allowed, and restricted when close to residential neighborhoods. Interestingly, the many requirements specified for controlling and mitigating sound within a building, where complete sound abatement is possible, are absent in the two mentions of outdoor music, where it is impossible.
If outdoor live entertainment is to be expanded, serious limits and constraints must be instituted in order to fulfill the CZO’s purpose of preserving and enhancing our historic residential neighborhoods. Limits and constraints should include, but not be limited to:
1. Increase the distance between outdoor live entertainment areas and residential districts to 60 ft. (the distance across 3 rooms in my house) to protect residents’ ability to enjoy their backyards.
2. Limit the hours outdoor live entertainment is permitted. AC-1 already limits music to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and midnight Thursday to Saturday. (Art. 18.9.C.3.a.6). Again, this protects the ability of residents to enjoy their homes and backyards.
3. Continue to make outdoor live entertainment a conditional use in all instances.
4. Limit the number of Outdoor Live Entertainment permits to one per block face.
5. Require a comprehensive sound abatement plan, including the use of landscaping, from a qualified sound control engineer to insure than sound does not travel beyond the 60 ft. buffer.
6. Require a sound data logger for such venues to record and store sound level data to monitor the venue’s compliance with any city ordinances regarding sound levels.
7. Require that the stage and/or performance area and any amplification face away from the residential district and towards the establishment.
8. Instituted a system of inspection and fines similar to the STR ordinances to ensure that the quality of life of residents isn’t degraded by the expansion of outdoor live entertainment venues.
In short, if outdoor live entertainment venues are to be expanded, the city must ensure that the health and welfare of its people are protected (including their ability to sleep at night), that its residents can enjoy their property in peace and that the citizens of New Orleans are not sacrificed to the tourist industry.