In neighborhoods where bars, restaurants, and music venues bump shoulders with residential homes, it is often a struggle to determine how loud music should be and how late it should be played. Both Downtown West Palm Beach and the Marina Historic District in Delray have gone through a trial-and-error process to figure out solutions that make everyone satisfied.

There are two main ways of measuring the acceptable sound level coming from a business. One, using a decibel meter, has the the advantage of being seen as objective. However, the meter runs into problems because it can be unclear which sounds in an area are contributing to an overall reading of, say, 90 decibels. The other method is declaring a maximum distance from a business that music can be “clearly audible,” but there is no objective definition of this term. West Palm has a decibel-based sound ordinance, while Delray goes with regulations based on the clearly audible standard.

Although local laws vary, what’s most important is that business owners and residents in the same neighborhood come to a mutually-satisfactory understanding. It’s in everybody’s best interest to have vibrant and active downtown spaces, and music helps drive business to restaurants and bars. Conversely, residents shouldn’t be kept up at 2 in the morning by blaring music. Fortunately, most of the time business owners and residents can find solid compromises through effective communication.

Read the full article here: As Stuart Considers New Regulations on Music, Delray Beach and West Palm Beach May Serve as Prototypes

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