City sound ordinance requirements still unclear for student groups

AddThis

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

Many Greek groups in West Campus still do not know the exact requirements of the city sound ordinance, after the city promised to provide details in a meeting last fall, according to Daniel Warner, government senior and former president of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. 

The Oct. 1 ordinance, which seeks to reduce sound levels in West Campus, requires organizations to apply for a permit through the Austin Center for Events at least three weeks before an event. Warner said the lack of specific guidelines has hampered his organization’s event planning process.

“During this meeting, I had asked these [city] officials if it were possible to compile a list, including City of Austin ordinances and statutory law, that would have applied to us,” Warner said. “One of the speakers had notified us that they would ‘send us the link’ with all of the city’s ordinances and codes.”

Warner said the event permits have not been approved in a timely manner, making it difficult to organize events.

According to Austin Police Department Sergeant Alfred Trejo, the ordinance is not new to the city, but the code will be held to a stricter standard in the West Campus area. Trejo said organizations were required to previously get approval from the fire department before hosting outdoor parties, but the application has been updated to include approval from multiple city departments. 

According to Andy Polasek, computer science junior and director of the Taos Co-op, many West Campus residents have decided to no longer host public parties as a result of the permit requirement.

“It’s really hard to go through the permitting process,” Polasek said. “Some of our buildings even had to get new blueprints drawn up, just so we could
submit good enough prints.”

Polasek also said many co-op members are relunctant to host public events because of increased police presence during parties.

Trejo said when his unit inspected parties at three fraternities he said typically have loud outdoor entertainment, two of the three fraternities had moved the entertainment inside in an effort to comply with the stricter codes. 

Trejo said the residents of the fraternity who did not comply received a written warning. 

“Tickets are a last-resort measure the police use to gain compliance,” Trejo said. “In the case of the music permit issue on West Campus, I’m willing to bet there were several times where the police showed up and gave a verbal warning.”

Despite stricter enforcement of the ordinance in West Campus, economics sophomore Akram Sirafi said he did not notice a lot of noise before the implementation of the ordinance and has not noticed any difference since.

Trejo said his unit would not make any changes in enforcement, including during the Greek community’s annual weekend-long Roundup event in March. 

Allison Young, accounting junior and president of the University Panhellenic Council, said sororities are working to comply with the codes and are still planning on having philanthropy and recruitment events this spring and next fall.

“Our Panhellenic community is used to changes being made every year,” Young said. “Individual sororities will make the necessary changes in order to continue to host events that support their philanthropies.”