D.C. buskers opposing legislation that would regulate amplified noise in the district

WASHINGTON, D.C. – City council is expected to vote on emergency legislation that would regulate amplified noise, and district buskers are concerned they will no longer be able to perform on the street.

Buskers, musicians, and others opposing the “Amplified Noise Amendment Act” gathered outside the Gallery Place metro station on Monday.

“If you chose to live here, you understand what you’re getting into,” said one of the musicians.

Councilmembers Bonds, Evans, and Cheh introduced the legislation back on June 5th, but council  will vote on emergency legislation on Tuesday.

The current law makes it illegal for anyone to amplify sound in a public place if it can be heard at 80 decibels, or louder, from inside the closest home in certain zoned districts.

According to the latest draft of the legislation that DCW50 received on Monday, the new law would make it illegal for the closest home in any residentially zoned district, or at a business.

It also adds an amendment that makes the noise illegal if it is “plainly audible to an individual of normal hearing” at a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal distance of 100 feet or between the sound source and the public, residential, or commercial space.

The punishment in the emergency legislation includes a fine of up to $300.

Originally, it included a punishment of up to 10 days in jail, but that was removed.

At a July 2nd council hearing, dozens of business owners, employees, and residents spoke about their concerns with how loud the music has gotten.

“While this is beyond our control, it’s often led to guests holding us responsible saying they will not return if we don’t do something about it,” said a restaurant owner.

Opponents of the legislation are concerned that this would not only take away art and harm the livelihoods of performers, but could also cause tensions with police.

“We will definitely see the further criminalization of our black and brown people,” said a speaker at Monday’s press conference.

If the measure passes, it will go into effect for 90 days in the district.

Councilmembers will also have the opportunity to amend the legislation before Tuesday’s vote.

A spokeswoman for Councilmember Cheh said she might offer an amendment to the emergency.