By Kiana Conant
Officials are facing a difficult task as they balance Old Town Scottsdale’s noise ordinance rules with a growing number of resident complaints in the area. On any given night, Old Town Scottsdale is a lively district filled with hundreds of restaurants, bars, shops, and nightclubs. Often seen as a premier destination for Arizona locals and tourists alike, the hustle and bustle of Old Town is what makes it so attractive.
In the residential areas surrounding Old Town, there is currently a noise ordinance rule for buildings in which sound cannot exceed 68 decibels when sound is measured from 100 feet away. However, in multi-use areas this is more difficult to measure. With many bars being right next to one another, officers find it difficult to locate where the noise originates. In turn, they then are unable to cite a specific building for breaking the noise rule. This is just one of the many challenges they face with the noise ordinance rules in Old Town.
The sound policy was put into effect in 2010 and since then, this sector of the city has grown significantly. Changing the policy runs the risk of a detrimental effect on the $3.2 billion economic impact of Old Town. In addition, businesses would be tasked with finding creative solutions to a problem that would usually make their business great. People come to Old Town for a fun, lively night, but they would be deterred by a major change in noise level. The city must ask themselves if fighting this battle would be worth potential revenue losses.
Officials have their work cut out for them as they come up with proposals to satisfy both sides. However, McKellips District station commander Jeromie O’Meara and Scottsdale Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell are working hard to come up with a way to make it all work. In an interview with AZ Times, they addressed some of the concerns of residents as well as some ideas for their proposal. These ideas include setting noise limits for mixed-use areas and special events, researching ways to allow police officers to pinpoint the source of noise in a busy area, working with businesses to find solutions rather than fining them for disobedience, and creating time specific sound limits such as time, day of the week, holidays, etc.,
Hopefully there is a solution they can work out from their ideas. Stockwell is hopeful to meet with other cities that have experienced this same issue to discuss how they handled the situation. It is expected that City Council will vote this summer on what to do about Old Town Scottsdale’s noise ordinance rules. Both voters and local business owners (and sometimes campaign contributors) will undoubtedly be watching.