The City Council’s Human Services Committee Monday night will consider amending Evanston’s noise ordinance to require permits for outdoor loudspeaker use — while easing some other noise restrictions.

The changes, recommended for approval by Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), would eliminate current language that reads:

“It shall be unlawful for any person within the City to make, continue, or permit any loud, unnecessary or unusual noise which annoys a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace or safety of others within the limits of the City. Noise in violation of this Section is a public nuisance.” Evanston City Code 9-5-20

Revelle calls that language “extremely vague and subjective.”

Revelle’s proposal also would dramatically increase how far the sound from loudspeakers would be permitted to carry — from 150 to 750 feet.

The code now bans operation of loudspeakers:

“in such a manner that distinct and loudly audible noises are emitted upon or proximate to a public way, which public way is within one hundred fifty (150) feet of property used for residential purposes. Evanston City Code 9-5-20 (F) 2

The new language would ban operation of loudspeakers:

“in such a manner as to be louder than average conversational level at a distance of seven hundred fifty (750) feet from the property line of the premises from which the sound is being generated.” HSC packet 3/7/22

The ordinance would maintain an existing ban on loudspeakers that can be heard at a distance of more than 50 feet during specified overnight hours.

And the ordinance would add a new provision requiring that anyone seeking to use a loudspeaker or similar device in an outdoor area obtain a permit from the city for its use.

“Any person, group, association, organization, business or other similar entity desiring to use in an outdoor area any machine or device specified in this Section must first obtain a permit for said use.” HSC packet 3/7/22

On its face, the permit provision would appear to require a person who wished to use a bullhorn during a demonstration or protest march to get a city permit.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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