Deep Ellum News

Noise task force recommends breaking Dallas' Deep Ellum into tiers

Noise task force recommends breaking Dallas' Deep Ellum into tiers

Deep Ellum "Traveling Man"
Shh, Traveling Man, keep it down. Photo by Joseph Haubert

Following an incomprehensible crackdown on noise in Deep Ellum — Dallas' biggest entertainment district — a task force has come up with a list of recommendations that include breaking the neighborhood into tiers where different noise levels would be allowed.

Noise became an issue in April 2021 when residents and businesses in the district started filing noise complaints to Code Compliance. These were noise ordinances that already existed, but had not been enforced diligently.

Deep Ellum venues banded together to defend their right to be noisy, and in July, the Deep Ellum Noise Task Force was created, comprised of the Deep Ellum Foundation, Deep Ellum Community Association, Code Compliance, Dallas Police Department, and live music venue owners.

After five months surveying residents and businesses, taking and monitoring decibel readings, and assessing international best practices, they issued a report which is online.

Recommendations include:

  • creating an overlay district featuring several tiers of allowable noise
  • expanding band loading zones
  • clarifying and streamlining the Department of Code Compliance Services' practices
  • ramping up education on noise within the district

There are three tiers, as follows:

  • Tier 1 will be a core in Deep Ellum that allows noise levels up to 92 decibels until midnight on weekdays and 2 am on weekends.
  • Tier 2 will be a commercial and entertainment corridor that allows up to 78 decibels until 10 pm on weekdays and 12 am on weekends.
  • A third tier, the Deep Ellum Cultural District, will follow regular city of Dallas noise levels.

As a point of comparison: For "office, retail, and parking districts," 63 decibels is the maximum permissible daytime decibel limit allowed. In "light and heavy commercial districts," it's 65 decibels. In "industrial districts," it's 70 decibels.

Their report also recommends not pointing speakers towards the right of way.

The task force's surveys found that it wasn't just music venues and bars, but also restaurants.

And here's an interesting tidbit: "The majority of complaints were received in relation to venues operating on Good Latimer Expressway." Someone has it in for Bottled Blonde.

"This Noise Task Force worked diligently to really understand the needs of all stakeholders who come to be a part of this community, and we are proud to present a set of recommendations that will allow Deep Ellum businesses and residents to continue to grow and thrive together," said Stephanie Keller Hudiburg, Executive Director of The Deep Ellum Foundation.

The task force included resident and musician Trey Carmichael who says in a statement that, "after a few decades playing and/or living down here, I’m happy to see a more comprehensive ordinance developed. Noise is a problem in any busy neighborhood, but it’s a complex matter in our live/play areas. The standard ordinance was simply too broad for all stakeholders to be treated fairly. The task force worked hard to find solutions that work for everyone in Deep Ellum."

Business owner Allen Falkner says in a statement that it's important to preserve Deep Ellum's role as an entertainment district.

"It’s been a very difficult couple of years with COVID-19," Falkner says. "All the businesses in Deep Ellum have suffered greatly and are doing their best to recoup losses and return to some form of normalcy. "The one thing that has remained the same is that Deep Ellum has been known as an entertainment district for a century. For many, it’s the heart and soul of Dallas with music being the cornerstone to its success and survival. These recommendations on the noise ordinance support music, entertainment and small businesses. They will not only help Deep Ellum, but will keep Dallas the cultural icon of Texas that it deserves to be."