Disclaimer: Marco Torres was hired by Red Bull to take photos at Monday's #LOUD event, so we asked him to report back. -- ed.
Last October, Houston's City Council passed a new sound ordinance that dropped the Houston Police Department's requirement of using decibal meters when responding to noise complaints. The current ordinance allows officers to ticket performers and business owners based on audible noise alone.
This has led to substantial fines and even jail time for some in the Houston entertainment industry. Many of these court cases have since been dropped due to lack of witnesses and evidence, but the fight to amend and revise the new ordinance continues.
Monday night at House of Blues, Red Bull Houston and the Greater Houston Entertainment Coalition Political Action Committee held an event aptly entitled #LOUD, attracting many DJs, rappers, musicians and music lovers in support of amending the ordinance.
Rocks Off spoke with Joshua Sanders, a registered lobbyist and official spokesperson for the GHEC-PAC, concerning the event and the group's mission and progress.
Rocks Off: Hello sir. That was some party.
Joshua Sanders: Thanks for coming out. That party was RIDICULOUS!
RO: Who originated the idea to hold this event? Who approached who?
JS: Red Bull was the originator of the party concept, they came to the GHEC-PAC with the idea. They wanted to throw the industry an event to help raise awareness around the noise ordinance and our efforts to revise it.
RO: Was this a fundraiser? If so, how will the funds be used?
JS: Yes it was. Money was raised at the event and that money is going towards operations of the GHEC-PAC. It is used for communications, lobbying, policy research, etc...
RO: How do you think the GHEC-PAC is doing in getting their message out to the Houston community? What is that message?
JS: GHEC-PAC is doing a great job of getting our message out and uniting the entertainment industry. One of the more difficult things in the past has been to organize and engage the bar/night club industry.
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We've done a good job of bringing these businesses together to create a long-term presence to represent their industry on a full time basis going forward. We want the City of Houston (COH) and others in the region to look to our group for input and professional guidance when it comes to issues that affect us. We've created a permanent seat at the table.
RO: What is the next step in fighting the ordinance?
JS:: Next step is to amend the noise ordinance. We are going to help create a "certificate program" at the COH where a venue can apply for a certificate for sound. A third party sound inspection company will perform a sound inspection at a venue that chooses to participate.
It is a voluntary program so it won't be any additional cost for a venue that is not affected by the noise ordinance. The COH will set a DB level to be achieved at the property line of venues. The sound inspection will perform a test inside the venue to see what DB level that venue can achieve while meeting the requirements of the established property-line DB.
The sound inspection will make suggestions on how to better mitigate their sound/noise then each venue will be certified at their own DB levels depending on the structure of their building. Now when a noise complaint occurs, the officer and venue will have a certified level of sound that they can operate under, and will have the DB meter reading on site to establish whether or not they were in compliance of the law.
This should all happen this fall. We will need the grass-roots and supporters of the PAC to help us speak out to the Mayor and City Council. We will get people information how to do so over email and through our Web site.
RO: Are there any more events scheduled in support of this cause? How can musicians and business owners, or anyone else get involved?
Ghecpac@comcast.net is the contact email for the PAC.
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Performers Monday included:
DJ Ebonix Alex C Kyle Berg Josh Dupont Rapid Ric Little Martin DJ Bizz DJ T-Gray BMC Eddie Spettro DJ Rockwell Brad Slack Surain DJ Remix Yogi-G Good Grief James Reed DJ NVS Fishr Pryce Bun B of UGK