Wednesday night's Noise Ordinance Taskforce meeting at the Compass Community Center Lake Worth was the latest milestone in a 20-year dispute between residents who live near downtown Lake Worth and venues hosting live music nearby. According to the flier circulating, the meeting was intended to discuss upcoming recommendations to the City Commission to establish "a truly viable noise ordinance in the community."
Assistant to the City Manager Rachel Smithson wants to be clear that the city's stance is not to kill live music in downtown Lake Worth but to reach a compromise that takes into account the needs of locals nearby. "People who work at night deal with noise as well," argues Propaganda's Steve Rullman. And based upon the current ordinance on the books, the only stipulation for unruly noise, be it from the Jameses onstage or a lawn mower trying to beat the heat, is something characterized as "loud and raucous."
"It's an issue cities don't want to touch because it pits the business community against the residents," Smithson says, and points out major music hubs like Austin, Texas, as an example.
John Cohen has been brought in to help reach
proposal also says no clearly audible noise should be heard from
the bedroom of any home from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. (except for homes
directly on Lake or Lucerne avenues). And it says bar-generated sound
must drop from a maximum of 85 decibels measured at the curb to 75
decibels after 10 p.m. -- and to 65 decibels, slightly louder than normal
conversation, after midnight.
However, downtown business owners think that the recommendation
"An ordinance with a structure will eventually come out of
Chrissy Benoit, owner of Havana Hideout and a member of the task force.
"But the proposal is for 65 decibels at the curb, and we've measured 72
here on a Taco Tuesday! Harleys are louder than that. Neighborhood
barbecues are too. People still need to email their city commissioners
at lakeworth.org about this."
No word if there was a recommendation to move to soft
shells for Taco Tuesday. Regardless, Rullman is disappointed that the
dispute had to come to this. He says that numerous proposals and offers
have been discussed to provide noise-abatement material for local homes affected by the noise. Plus, some of the local musicians were
keen on staging a benefit to raise funds to provide soundproofing. "Police need to have a guideline by which to enforce a
law," he says. "The proposals put forward by the homeowners are
regard to the decibels. If you have a neighbor, you
go talk to them and work it out."
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The next step, Smithson says, is for the task force to hammer out
recommendations on Monday and Wednesday. In the meantime, people who
would like to voice their thoughts can contact