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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Residents and local business owners debate noise regulation bill

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kendrick Chang.

Local restaurant and nightclub owners clashed with D.C. residents complaining about noise levels from certain establishments at a D.C. Council meeting Monday.

The Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs heard testimonies from businesses, government officials and D.C. residents about the Nightlife Regulation Amendment Act of 2015, at a hearing which lasted for more than seven hours. At-large Council member Vincent Orange, who is the chair of the committee, introduced the bill in May.

The measure would require establishments with certain liquor licenses to measure the noise coming from the location between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. with a certified decibel reader and submit weekly reports on the noise levels to the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.

Orange said at the hearing he introduced the bill after receiving multiple noise complaints from constituents whose homes are near bars and night clubs.

“The noise is disturbing to residents and affects their quality of life,” Orange said. “The problem can only get worse if noise standards are not enforced.”

Residents like Marie Tressle testified at the meeting in support of the measure, saying it will finally enforce existing noise laws.

“People in mixed-use residential zones should not be treated differently, as we want our quality of life like everyone,” Tressle said. “We love bars and restaurants but there is a breaking point when there is noise from above and through walls.”

“Because the major objective of this measure is to improve the quality of life, we want regular reports,” D.C. resident and D.C. Nightlife Coalition co-founder Carl Nelson said. “We want transparency and accountability.”

More than two dozen D.C. bar and business owners testified in opposition, citing that the bill will hurt their bottom line or even shut down their business. In particular, many of the business owners who came to testify opposed a clause in the bill that would prohibit any music noise after midnight at outdoor areas including rooftop decks and patios of business establishments.

“Prohibiting the cultural and social amenities that make our hometown an engaging and enjoyable place with a world-class reputation is simply taking a step-back in time,” Mark Lee, the executive director of the D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association, said. The group was formed Monday by a group of D.C. nightclub owners to take a similar stand on relevant legislation.

Lee added that 98 percent of DCNHA businesses have complied with existing noise level regulations and have mitigated noise issues brought up by neighboring residents.

“We should not look to extreme measures to remedy sporadic complaints,” Lee said.

Orange said the bill intends find a middle ground to allow businesses to remain open while relieving concerns raised by residents.

“As the city expands, we have to take everybody’s interests into consideration,” Orange said. “It is time for all of us to work together to get an agreement done.”

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