Mayoral Candidate Preliminary Questionnaire: Arts & Culture

6. Art and Culture 

On April 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of Virginia struck down a municipal noise ordinance in Virginia Beach because it was unconstitutionally vague (Tanner v. City of Virginia Beach). The Charleston municipal noise ordinance contains pertinent identical language to that Virginia ordinance. Businesses receive Livability Court criminal citations for violating the ordinance by way of live music. 

Question 6:

Considering the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling, would you reevaluate Charleston’s noise ordinance? Why or why not? Would the needs of Charleston’s live music scene factor into your decision? 


Noises ordinances should be clear so Charleston establishments are able to operate within the perimeters of the law and avoid punishing fines.  A balance needs to be struck between the growth of live music venues and the quality of life of residents who live nearby. 


It’s healthy to constantly evaluate our city ordinances to determine how they are working and how our businesses and residents are being affected. As Mayor I will review all ordinances for compliance with changing constitutional standards. Downtown residents deserve to be able to sleep peacefully in their homes at night. Charleston’s live music scene is one of the many things that make our city so special and striking the right balance is key. As Mayor, I will work with residents and businesses to find a middle ground that makes sense for both sides.


As you may know, I play piano in a local jazz band that performs live in various  venues throughout the city, so I have a personal  understanding of this issue. And, as with several other difficult questions facing the City, the answer isn’t top­down
decision­making ­­ it’s more and broader public  participation in a process  where we work through our differences and find solutions that work for everyone.