After what has been a long, bitter fight between nightlife businesses in Lake Worth and several angry downtown-area residents, city commissioners voted Tuesday to enact a noise ordinance that will affect the city's nightlife -- or more precisely, its burgeoning music scene.
Over the past few years, Lake Worth has become a hotbed for music with indie hot spots like Propaganda, Little Munich, and Havana Hideouts serving a creative (shall we say quirky?) base. (See our favorite self-described anarchist commissioner, Cara Jennings, who voted to pass the ordinance.)
The ordinance will limit noise to 85 decibels until midnight Friday and
Saturdays and until 11 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. (To put it in
context, loud air conditioners are about 65 decibels, and average traffic
is about 85.)
"If they enforce this, it
will hamper any real progress we've made here," says Propaganda promoter
Cecil Lunsford, also of Shaman Stick Productions. "One of the only
people come [to Lake Worth] is for the music."
owner of Havana Hideouts, an open-air bar that could be seriously
impacted by the ordinance, is a bit more conciliatory.
with the residents to a certain extent," she says. Benoit sat on the
Noise Ordinance Taskforce, which offered the city commissioners
suggestions that ultimately passed. "Some places have been a nuisance,"
However, she accused critics of Lake Worth's nightlife scene of being unreasonable.
people wanted something ridiculous [in the ordinance]. Like, at first,
they wanted 65 [decibels], and then they wanted 50 [decibels]. Cars are
louder than that."
The community response has been tangibly
against implementing any noise ordinance. But such limitations aren't
too uncommon. Miami's ordinance, for instance, states that music
shouldn't be audible from the outside of a building between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. "so as to disturb the comfort of persons in any
dwelling or residence." Though that seems a little vague and
unenforceable, as the Miami ordinance doesn't signify an actual decibel
According to Benoit, the task force looked to Jupiter,
West Palm Beach, Delray, and Key West to figure out what would fit Lake
"We took about 25 percent from each city," says Benoit.
"I feel that we were extremely thorough. We worked every week for 20
weeks in that conference room to come up with tons of information.
think a sound ordinance is a good thing," she continued. "I just think
the ordinance needs to be tailored to the personality of the city. My
frustration was that it was very, very clear that most of the community
is for a musical downtown. And some outspoken individuals seem to be
Christine Davis, one of
proponents of the ordinance who also sat on the task force, told New
Times through email, "I just hope that we can all be good neighbors.
That the bars can do business and
that the residents can have the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. I'm
this can be worked out, especially since there are inexpensive sound
materials readily available."
The ordinance doesn't go into
effect until it's voted on a second time. Opponents can voice their
concerns at the final hearing Wednesday, October 27, at 6 p.m.