Here’s Where Things Stand And How You Can Get Involved
Within the next two months, the City Council should finally vote on regulations that would permanently legalize outdoor music and entertainment. This is a tremendous opportunity and would be the first piece of major land use legislation that specifically assists the cultural community since the passage of a new Zoning Ordinance in 2015. The proposed changes are citywide, which means there are a number of items, so making sense of everything can be difficult. In order to allow more robust public input and so people know what they are actually supporting (or, to be fair, opposing) we’ve created the breakdown of the proposed regulations below. We’ve also included information on the timeline, potential opportunities to offer public input, and ideas for the City Council. Please note that the proposed regulations could change before the final vote. We will work to keep you updated, so please follow our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for updates.
What are the regulations proposing?
1. Outdoor live music and live entertainment would generally be allowed at businesses that can also have indoor live music. However, for businesses within 600 feet (roughly two city blocks) of a residential district, outdoor music/live entertainment would be a conditional use, which means that the business would have to go through an approval process at the City Planning Commission and City Council, and only then will the business be able to host outdoor music. City Council members generally follow the recommendations of the councilmember whose district the business is in. For example, if the business is in the Bywater (District C), then Councilmember Freddie King III would likely be the person who makes the final decision. Because most businesses in New Orleans are within two blocks of a residential district, outdoor music will almost always be a conditional use.
2. Most businesses that are approved for outdoor live music would be able to host up to three days of outdoor music per week from the hours of 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. / 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. / 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, depending on the type of business and location. Businesses in Arts and Culture Overlay Districts (like Frenchmen Street and Freret Street) would be able to have later hours.
3. Outdoor live music and entertainment would not be allowed in the French Quarter except at cultural facilities and public markets (specifically the French Market, which hosts several outdoor venues and a bandstand).
4. The legislation would create a new type of permit—the Indoor/Outdoor Live Entertainment Accessory Use Permit. This would allow businesses that provide food and drink for onsite consumption to have indoor or outdoor music one day a week (two days per week in Arts and Cultural Overlay Districts) upon approval of the permit. Days where music is going to be held would have to be scheduled in advance and multiple weeks could potentially be included in each permit. However, businesses that choose to use this permit would be unable to also apply for traditional special event permits. Available hours would be the same as traditional outdoor music and these permits would not be allowed in the French Quarter.
5. This proposal does not affect second lines, Black Masking Indian traditions, street performers, parades, or any performance or cultural activity that takes place in the public right of way. They would be able to continue just as before.
What happens now?
The regulations received no formal recommendation from the City Planning Commission. They will now be sent to the City Council at the next Council meeting on June 9. The Council will then have two months to act on the proposed regulations and are able to make changes—however they can only modify items that were included in the original document or that were discussed at the May 24 City Planning Commission meeting. They cannot add entirely new items (for example, they couldn’t alter laws that govern the sale of alcohol at businesses with live music since they were never included in the original set of proposed regulations). We will be carefully tracking progress of this proposal and will let you know when it is up for a vote.
How can you get involved?
We anticipate that there will be several public meetings to provide input before the final vote, but as of this writing none have yet been scheduled. Most importantly, please contact the City Council and let them know you support outdoor live music. You can do that today. We know that they are already hearing from the opposition.
Anything specific to tell the City Council?
The most important thing is to let them know you support outdoor live music and entertainment. If it was important for your mental health during the height of the pandemic, tell them that. If you are a musician and thus it provided you with a source of income, tell them. Do you own or work at a small business that benefited from it? Let them know. The more positive stories they hear, the better. If you have specific suggestions about the proposed regulations—say you want to see outdoor music in the French Quarter, or you think the proposed hours are too long or not long enough—let them know that as well.
Where is the full list of proposed regulations?
You can see the full City Planning Commission staff report at bit.ly/outdoormusicreport.
What is the contact information for the City Council?
Council Vice President
Joe Giarrusso III
Freddie King III
The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO) is a broad-based coalition and registered 501c3 non-profit corporation that collaborates with, organizes, and empowers the New Orleans music and cultural community to preserve and nurture the city’s culture, to translate community vision into policy change, and to create positive economic impact.
This space is provided to MaCCNO as a community service and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or editorial policies of ANTIGRAVITY.