Noise Ordinance: Woman Arrested, Spends 30th Birthday in the Clink

Some people celebrate three decades of Earth existence at dinner or by going on an out-of-town adventure.

Lauren Garcia spent her 30th birthday in the slammer.

On June 9, Garcia threw a bash on her house, located just outside of downtown on the outskirts of the Heights.

"I gave my neighbors a heads-up that it might get loud," says Garcia, who enlisted some DJ buddies to play music through a PA in Garcia's yard. "They said they were cool with it."

Around 11 p.m., two Houston Police Department officers came by and told Garcia to shut down the good times. She told them "no," adding, "It's not midnight yet so I'll make everyone go inside." The cops, according to Garcia, said that was chill.

Though the music posted up inside, some folks remained outside.

The officers returned.

"While some DJs were moving gear out of the house, I saw the cops hanging out in my backyard. When I walked outside, they immediately grabbed and put handcuffs on me," explains Garcia. "They said that they were putting the handcuffs on me to scare the others to move on out of there."

Garcia says that while she was in the back of the squad car, two HPD officers tried to get her to confess that there were drugs at the party. After searching every partygoer, "they found nothing at all," says Garcia.

Garcia says that the cops discussed taking her in for public intoxication, but "I had only had a few drinks," recalls Garcia. Instead, according to a HPD arrest report, Garcia was charged with "generating sound causing others to be aware of vibrations or resonance" and taken to jail, where she spent the night.

As explored in the Press' "Sound Effects" story, this Class C misdemeanor is a similar charge levied against many local club owners and musicians since Houston City Council gave an a-ok to an overhauled noise ordinance in October. Due to its cryptic language, many of the cases have been bombing in court, including Garcia's.

"When the judge read the charges, "he laughed and said, 'This is why you're in here? Go home.'"

"I work a nine to five and I work hard. It was my 30th birthday and we we're just having a party," says Garcia. "The whole thing is just ludicrous, insane and crazy."

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen