New Orleans Music v. French Quarter Residents

New Orleans Music

Let the Street Musicians Play; Photo Courtesy of Creative Deja Vu via Flickr

Jan Ramsey, Editor of Louisiana music and culture magazine Offbeat, has been blogging about the attempts of homeowners in the French Quarter and Marigny to lower the level of noise produced by clubs and music venues. Her latest post even suggested just shutting down Frenchmen Street. While I think she was intentionally being a bit extreme, she makes a good point. New Orleans is a city that depends on our food and music to drive tourism, our largest industry. So, what’s the law behind all this hubbub? As with the food truck saga, the laws on the issue reside in the New Orleans Municipal Code.

You can find the ordinances by going to, finding New Orleans, then navigating to Chapter 66 Environment > IV Noise. Or you can just go straight to Division 3 – Regulations, where the measurements and methods of measuring the  music are located. The maximum level of sound is based on the zoning of the land receiving the sound, as well as the time of day. This is chart is confusing and doesn’t provide an easy way to determine how loud is too loud, so I can see why there’s so much debate and allegations of nonconformity.

Jan says that if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen. I agree; if late night music isn’t your thing, you probably shouldn’t live near late night entertainment. At the same time, I understand some of the clubs have gotten out of hand, so an amicable solution needs to be reached. Shutting down the music isn’t amicable.

Do you have any suggestions on ways to tweak the code to keep residences happy but protect the clubs and musicians? Pass them along in the comments.