The McAllen City Commission met yesterday evening to vote on an ordinance that would ban outdoor amplified music and all ages shows in the downtown entertainment district. The ordinance originated back in May, but, met with resistance from citizens and local business owners, the City decided to postpone the vote until more information could be gathered. Last night, much to the satisfaction of the crowd of citizen protesters, the sound ordinance did not pass.
The victory for downtown business owners and concert-goers didn’t come without a price. Thankfully, though, that price isn’t as bad as it would have been. New restrictions on checking IDs will be in place, costing the venues some money. They will have to purchase specialized ID readers (which cost hundreds of dollars), and will have to implement a stamp system for minors. Additionally, the venues will have to provide the City with monthly ID scanner usage reports.
Instead of banning outdoor amplified music altogether, the City compromised by placing restrictions on decibel levels. Under these restrictions, sound downtown can’t be over 85 dB from 300 ft (one block) away, and speakers can’t point in certain directions (like straight at houses).
Ironically, John Ingram, the Commissioner responsible for the initial ban, was not present at the meeting. Mayor Darling wanted to wait for him, however Commissioner Richard Cortez said they had been sitting too long on voting on this issue, bringing up that they had voted without commissioners being present before.
After all was said and done, the City of McAllen thanked the crowd of civilians for attending, for participating in local issues. It goes to show that holding government responsible for its actions, peaceably calling for reason, and listening to one another can actually result in triumphs for local people and culture.
Special thank you to Andres Sanchez for providing us with photos from the City Commission meeting. This story was pieced together from notes by Andres Sanchez.