Tighter Venue Rules Annoy Promoters

Travis County, Texas, commissioners voted Aug. 11 to restrict noise levels and set curfews for large events on private property outside cities.

Photo: carsoncreekranch.com/
during Euphoria

The measure was spurred by a dispute between Carson Creek Ranch, which hosts several music festivals near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and Brenton Johnson, who lives next door on his farm and has complained about noise and partiers spilling over.

The ranch is home to the Euphoria and Levitation festivals. The measure, which the commissioners approved 5-0, prohibits amplified sound after 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. It also limits noise levels at any time to 70 decibels – about the volume of a vacuum cleaner – as measured from a nearby residence, according to the Austin American-Statesman. County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said a promoter can still ask the county for permission to extend hours if they have proof that there are no neighbors within earshot or if they acquire consent from those neighbors.

Event promoters said the county’s new restrictions will hurt their businesses and could make Travis County venues unattractive to big acts that want to play later.

The city’s rules for outdoor music allow up to 85 decibels at neighboring properties but require an earlier cutoff: 11 p.m. on Thursdays and 10:30 p.m. on all other days, the American-Statesman said. “This restriction places a substantial financial burden and harm to a number of my clients,” said Scott Davidson, president of Code 4 Event Management, which hosts events at Carson Creek.

Daugherty said he understands residents’ concerns but believes the county does not have the legal authority to limit events on private property. However, he made the motion to approve the rules, which he said would probably be thrown out in court if challenged. Joan Havard, whose family has owned the Carson Creek Ranch since the mid-19th century, said the Euphoria festival has already booked late-night acts for next year’s festival and will be submitting an event permit application to the county. If that permit is rejected, she said it will be up to the festival to sue, the paper said.