Sound bite: City proposes new noise restrictions

The city of Charlottesville is proposing a series of amendments to its noise ordinance in an attempt to address concerns about late night noise "emanating from such establishments as the Buddhist Biker Bar, the Outback Lodge, LaTaza and Saxx, reported noise incidents on the Downtown Mall, and complaints in residential units," according to a memo from Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert.

Indeed, the Hook wrote about such noise issues at La Taza and Saxx last June.

"After previously considering imposition of uniform restrictions in all mixed use corridors within the City to address the first issue," writes Tolbert in the memo, which is addressed to Police Chief Tim Longo and City Attorney Craig Brown, "we now believe a more effective method for regulating such noise is to impose a reasonable nighttime restriction upon restaurants and bars within the City."

Essentially, instead of imposing a noise restriction on a particular area, the city has decided to impose uniform noise restrictions on all restaurants. According to Tolbert, this will make it easier for police to enforce, as they won't have to spend time determining if a restaurant is within a restricted zone.

The new ordinance would limit sound levels to 75 db(A) when measured outside a restaurant between 10pm and 6am. Tolbert's memo also calls for a daytime noise restriction in the Downtown Business District. Currently, there is a nighttime restriction of 75 db(A) from 10pm-6am Sun-Thurs, and 12:01am-6am Fri-Sat. The memo also asks if noise restrictions should be stricter in residential areas downtown, based on complaints the NDS has received.

Of course, some might wonder what this means for the Pavilion, a notorious noise maker, which is neither a residence or a restaurant. Would this let the giant clam off the hook?

A public hearing on these proposed noise amendments will be held at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 19.


This never seemed to be a problem just a few years back, especially at Outback Lodge, which is one of the few places listed by name that has been around some 20 years without a problem with noise as far as I know. As far as outside noise, Millers, the former Star Hill, Michaels Bistro (summer) Fellini's, Twisted Branch, Escafe & especially the Pavilion are the more memorable culprits as well as some of the newer places like Twisted Branch, La Taza (summer) & Saxx. The main problem I think is that a lot of the newer places, that were not designed to have certain types of entertainment, or any at all, have now made this a problem for places that were developed for the purpose of having live entertainment. These proposals of "impose uniform noise restrictions" are unfair to the clubs that have been around for a long time & offer entertainment in the proper setting.

Actually, people in the 10th and Page and Rose Hill heighborhoods, including a former Councilwoman, have been complaining about the noise level of Outback and whatever-is-the-flavor-of-the-week-that's-in-the-old-Dairy-building for years.

Should be an interesting discussion if restaurant managers wish to weigh-in.

I didn't realize that about the Preston Plaza area. I never read it anywhere until now. I just hope that of it does pass it won't affect the once thriving & now surviving music scene.

Another tough-to-enforce spot: Those high db beer pong games along fraternity row. (Dude, drink up! -- it'll be quieter).

How about an ordinance restricting CONSTRUCTION NOISE sometime later than 630AM on weekdays and 730am on weekends? Do something useful.