Illustration by Jessica Turner.

There’s no such thing as a quiet evening stroll in Deep Ellum. To some people, that’s a problem. 

Earlier this year, the Dallas Police Department said “see ya” to its noise ordinance enforcement responsibilities. Dallas’ Department of Code Compliance Services took over in April. Since then, code compliance has been strictly enforcing the rules.

Right now, people and businesses violate the ordinance if a noise “is offensive to the ordinary sensibilities of the inhabitants of the city,” according to the code. Businesses were quiet for a while because of the pandemic, but when they started to reopen, complaints and code enforcement ramped up. Some neighbors want venues to make like Simon & Garfunkel and play the sound of silence. 

Deep Ellum’s business owners say the code language is too subjective, and they started a Change.org petition, “Don’t Silence Deep Ellum, TX,” to clarify it. 

“Without measurability and specificity, local concert halls, bars and music venues aren’t able to meet clearly defined rules and enforcement is left to subjective judgment as opposed to objective, quantifiable and clear decision,” the petition states. As of publishing, more than 6,000 people had signed it. 

District 2 City Councilman Jesse Moreno formed a task force in July with the Deep Ellum Foundation, Deep Ellum Community Association, district entertainment and live music venue owners to find a solution.

“We must find solutions that both allow businesses to thrive and maintain quality of life for their neighbors and nearby residents who have been drawn to the Deep Ellum district to enjoy these rich amenities,” Moreno said in a news release.

A similar situation has occurred In Lower Greenville, where some neighbors have complained about parking issues, crowds and loud noises coming from certain late-night businesses, says District 14 City Councilman Paul Ridley.

“We’re dealing with them on a case-by-case basis,” Ridley says. 

Two places on Greenville Avenue, Bar 3606 and OT Tavern, have been the subject of Board of Adjustment proceedings. The OT Tavern case was settled in August, providing some relief to neighbors. But the board sided with Bar 3606 and denied the City Council’s request to set a compliance date for the nonconforming establishment. 

“We’re exploring other alternatives for turning that establishment back into a restaurant or otherwise dealing with the disruption that they’re causing in the neighborhood,” Ridley says. 


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