This Health Campaign Could Create Some Deafening Silence for New Orleans

In the words of an old philosopher, it's the "night the music died." Maybe.

Ever been to New Orleans? Hanging with the midnight souls in the French Quarter? Many of us have. Now imagine strolling down Bourbon and Toulouse and… it’s quiet. That could give you chills just thinking about it.

Well, in what has to be a colossally bad PR move, that could happen just a skosh.

In late September, the City of New Orleans launched a public health campaign aimed at turning down the volume across the city. The campaign dubbed “Sound Check” is trying to reduce the level of harmful sounds that can adversely affect public health, according to a NOLA Health Department press release.

Evidently, the city health inspectors will monitor decibel levels in the French Quarter and trendy Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, where 60-year-old sound standards have been an issue of contention between residents and music venues that operate close to homes.

The new initiative will focus initially on educating musicians and club owners about the negative health effects of loud music, such as harm to hearing, rather than enforcement, the city said.

According to a Reuters report, this proposal failed to win approval from the New Orleans City Council, with elected officials torn between complaints from residents’ groups and pleas from club owners and musicians concerned that stricter enforcement of noise rules would shut down shows and hurt business.

“We’re saying (to businesses): ‘Here’s some info, here’s some ways you can help your consumers and customers be safe and have a good time,’” city Health Director Charlotte Parent said. “We want to inform and create something we can educate about and would be enforceable.”

A cap on noise levels. In the French Quarter. I suppose last call at 10 p.m. on school nights are next? Stranger things have happened.