El Paso City Council considering changes to controversial sound ordinance

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso City Council is considering new amendments to the noise ordinance set to take effect in September and affect bars and restaurants, as well as the homes near them.

The original ordinance was approved by City Council earlier this summer. It requires bars and restaurants within 200 feet of a residential area to be quiet by midnight. Some residents say this is a good thing while business owners fear this could cause them to close.

The two new amendments proposed on Tuesday include making businesses within 200 feet of a residential area come up with a way to muffle sounds, such as sound walls. It would also require businesses to have a permit for outdoor amplification that would allow them to have sound until 2 a.m.

City Council decided to have staff look into changing the distance to 350 feet and revisit the issue and have the first reading on Sept. 3 so it can begin to introduce the amendments into law.

The decision to return to the issue next month passed 5-3, with Reps. Alexsandra Annello, Cassandra Hernandez and Henry Rivera voting no.

Prior to the meeting Peter Svarzbein, Representative for West El Paso said, “I think some of the other members are concerned with how the ordinance is written now would be shutting down businesses in the sun city. Small business owners and the employees that are employed by them.”

El Paso Bars and Restaurant Association created a website asking the community to send emails to the Mayor and City Council asking them not to move forward with the ordinance as is. The El Paso Bars and Restaurant Association said the proposed amendments would:

  • Keep thousand of local El Pasoans employed.
  • Provide outdoor entertainment and dining year-round.
  • Continue to grow tourism.

According to Svarzbein, City Council has received a large number of emails, including residents who want it to be quiet but also don’t want businesses to close. Svarzbein said he believes the proposed amendments will make it fair for both residents and businesses.

“Common sense solutions to make sure that we’re more equitable and fair. creating a system that allows sound mitigation which the current ordinance that was passed does not do that. Also creating something that keeps businesses open as well,” Svarzbein said.

The final public hearing along with final approval is expected to be discussed in a city council meeting scheduled on September 17th.

Tatiana Favela and Aaron Bracamontes contributed to this report.

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