Mayor's Office Press Release
Houston City Council Approves Revisions to Noise Ordinance
May 4, 2022 -- Today, Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council approved the proposed amendments to Chapter 30 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances related to noise and sound level regulation. The changes made to the ordinance were driven by complaints from Houston residents living near businesses that emanate excessive late-night noise—impacting the quality of life for several residents.
“As Houston grows in population, our neighborhoods are becoming increasingly mixed-use: restaurants, museums, shopping and a robust nightlife are within walking distance of our homes. This is a good thing – it’s a sign that our city is growing and vibrant. But mixed uses can also create tension between residents and their commercial neighbors,” said Mayor Turner. “Without zoning, we had to find a way to balance the needs of the residents while not negatively impacting local businesses."
The changes are a result of two years of collaborative work: listening to area residents; convening with establishment owners and organizations like the Greater Houston Texas Restaurant Association and the Neighborhood Beer Garden and Bar Association; analyzing metrics; and garnering support from local civic clubs and other organizations. Driven by At-Large Council Member Sallie Alcorn, and supported by District Council Members Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, Abbie Kamin, and Amy Peck as well as City staff from the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department, Houston Police Department, and City’s Attorney’s Office, the changes will take appropriate steps to target repeat offenders.
The most significant change in the Sound Ordinance is the creation of a new Commercial Establishment Sound Permit which will be required of all commercial establishments located within 300 feet of a residence that wish to play amplified sound to 75 d(B)A on Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (as measured from the receiving property). Commercial Establishments can play amplified sound outdoors to 68 d(B)A from Sunday through Thursday, 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. It is important to note that not all restaurants and bars in Houston are within 300 feet of a residence, nor play amplified sound outside/that can be heard outside. Only those establishments who meet those requirements need to apply for the permit.
Until today, the City of Houston did not have a specific permit requirement for commercial establishments using sound amplification equipment in the manner described in the new ordinance. The significance of the new permit requirement is that permits that are issued can also be revoked for noncompliance – an important new tool for the City in dealing with noise nuisance issues.
“I am thankful for Mayor Turner’s leadership in striking what I think is a good balance for all the stakeholders. For the next 120 days until the ordinance changes take effect, we will be working to educate Houston’s restaurants and bars to help them understand the new requirements and what they need to do to come into compliance,” explained Tina Paez, the Director of Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department.
An important feature of the new Commercial Establishment Sound Permit is that it will be issued to an establishment rather than an individual — putting the responsibility for compliance on the establishment itself rather than, for example, a DJ or other individual whose presence in the establishment may be transient. Other changes include a new administrative hearing process that will allow an establishment whose permit is recommended for revocation to propose a plan to mitigate the adverse noise impacts in the neighborhood.
Any questions concerning the new ordinance should be directed to ARA Regulatory Permitting at ARARegulatoryPermitting@houstontx.gov or 832-394-8803.