Frequently Asked Questions

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Excessive Sound Level Proposed Legislation

On October 18, 2018, a representative for the Turn It Down Coalition appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss the issue of excessive sound levels from street performers. Listen to the full segment here.

What other cities are doing to address excessive sound issues:
Other cities have successfully addressed excessive sound levels. Many require permits, restrict locations, and are burdensome.  We support a simple approach: no permit required, buskers play what and where they want and can accept donations, enforcement is based only on fines for repeat offenders, no jail time. We are only asking for reasonable and enforceable sound levels.

  • Cambridge, MA: Requires a permit and generally, the sound level may not exceed 80 decibels measured at a distance of 25 feet. For drums, the sound is limited to a distance of 150 feet. Cambridge, MA Street Performer Ordinance.
  • Chicago, IL: Street performers must obtain a permit and avoid generating any sound louder than an average conversational level at a distance of 100 feet. It is a separate violation at a distance of 200 feet. Street performers also have to get a license to play that must be renewed every two years. City of Chicago Street Performer Fact Sheet.
  • New Orleans, LA: The sound level of the music may not exceed 80 decibels from 50 feet away. Guide to New Orleans Street Performance.
  • New York City, NY: Regulates street performer noise by requiring permits for sound producing devices and limiting areas where performances may take place. A Guide for Street Performers NYC.
  • PortlandOR: Noise Control Act regulates sound plainly audible at 100 feet in any direction (including vertical). Portland, OR Street Musician Agreement.
  • San Francisco, CAAreas of the city require a permit to perform, and performances are time-limited. San Francisco prohibits operation of a radio or television receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, jukebox, broadcasting equipment or other machine or device if louder than necessary and further prohibits sounds audible beyond 50 feet from the property line between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Port of San Francisco Street Performer Program.