Students look to changes to sound ordinances permits

Eleanor Dearman

With the Austin City Council passing a resolution calling for changes to the city sound ordinance Thursday, students are continuing to work with the city as it looks at possible code amendments.

Members of Student Government and the Interfraternity Council have been working in conjunction with Council member Chris Riley and his team to adjust the stricter enforcement in West Campus of the city sound ordinance, which began Wednesday. Currently, the ordinance calls for an organization to request a permit 21 days before an event and have a specific site plan. To address this, SG and Riley wrote similar resolutions calling for alterations to the ordinance for private events.

Leah Bojo, policy aide for Riley, said students approached Riley’s office with concerns about the strict regulations. While the complete solution to student concerns is still in the works, Bojo said she thinks a private party permit is a start.

“We did initiate an item at the last City Council meeting to create a permit for private parties that is reasonable — that respects the quality of life of the folks that live in the neighborhood — and that also allows students to have safe parties but does actually allow them to have parties,” Bojo said.

She said the resolution will be sent to city staff members who will work on the details of the permit and determine how to proceed with the permit from here.

“We passed an item directing city staff to conduct stakeholder meetings and come back with a recommendation,” Bojo said. “Now the ball is kind of in the court of the staff.”

IFC President Edwin Qian said the City Council’s resolution indicates support for University students.

“What it means is that the City Council now recognizes that there is a problem, and they are going to set up a committee to work on this problem,” said Qian, economics and management information systems senior.

Along with continued collaboration with the city, Qian said the next step for IFC is to hire an attorney to look at a solution to the ordinance from a legal standpoint.

“We can’t just name things we want,” Qian said. “We have to make sacrifices, and we also have to make sure that the new solution — A.K.A. the special permit for West Campus — really fits our needs.”

Biology senior Cameron Crane, SG College of Natural Science representative and an author of the SG resolution, said SG plans to reexamine the resolution to see if any amendments need to be made. A possible change, according to Crane, is suggesting the city extend the sound ordinance start time to 2 a.m. If any changes are made, they will be presented and voted on at Tuesday’s SG meeting.

“Once it goes to the assembly for a vote on Tuesday — assuming it passes — we will start taking more steps and meetings with various student groups and also with our city relations task force at city hall, to start,” Crane said.

Qian said there were not many fraternity parties over the past weekend because of first weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. He said he expects the same for next weekend because of the Red River Showdown football game in Dallas and the second weekend of ACL. For this reason, he said the strictness of the ordinance in its current state will be known later in October.

“The next time we’ll see [the ordinance] head on will be the weekend of the 17th,” Qian said. “So we’ll see whether or not there is going to be a drastic effect.”

In September, a group of students planned to protest the ordinance. The protest was rescheduled and, ultimately, did not occur.