City Attorney: ordinance generally allows personal megaphones

Street preachers using personal amplification are a regular sight at Bele Chere, but an Occupy Asheville protester was told by an Asheville Police Department officer that city ordinance requires them to put away their megaphone. However, according to City Attorney Bob Oast, the city generally allows the use of personal amplification in public space.

The noise ordinance states that “no person shall engage in an activity produces or constitutes a noise disturbance in an occupied premise or neighboring area,’” Oast tells Xpress. “Amplification’s always been an issue. I don’t know the circumstances were regarding this particular incident, but I know in the past we’ve permitted amplification if it’s at a low level, such as the use of a personal megaphone.”

Amplification has remained an issue, as has the subjectivity of the city’s noise ordinance guidelines. City staff are currently reviewing the ordinance, and looking into regulating street preachers as well.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter

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6 thoughts on “City Attorney: ordinance generally allows personal megaphones

  1. Barry Summers

    So will they explain to the officers of the APD that Occupy Asheville protesters have the same rights as the ‘you’re-going-to-hell’ preachers?

  2. Barry Summers

    So will they explain to the officers of the APD that Occupy Asheville protesters have the same rights as the ‘you’re-going-to-hell’ preachers?

  3. Jeff

    Kid would have got off fine if he’d uttered the magic words:

    “Officer, I NEED the megaphone so I can damn this window to hell before I baptize it.”

  4. LOKEL

    It is really disconcerting that the police in Asheville are not really aware of the laws they are supposed to be enforcing, or in this case what is legal and what is not.

    It’s almost as if they (APD officers) hope the public is unschooled on the laws.

  5. Viking

    There’s other options to identifying noise violators. Illegally modified privately owned vehicles are subject to the Federal Noise Control Act and the NC muffler law:

    http://www.noiseoff.org/pipes/section.09.01.php

    Denver has kicked but in making neighborhoods more peaceful. Lake Lure is pretty much closed to the loud motorcycles now.

    Illegally modified POVs are not a source of free speech because there is no human speech, only machine noise. Indeed, when these machines go by those participating in free speech downtown are drowned out or have to compensate by being louder themselves.

    The COA noise ordinance is pretty useful, but the barriers to enforcement are largely philosophical. Even with stretched resources, some kind of noise mitigation program is possible.

    This is true for Buncombe County as well. The Blue Ridge Parkway needs a noise mitigation program in order to enforce their noise ordinance and Natural Sounds Program as their draft genera management plan is calling for increased traffic. BRP mentions illegally modified POVs (i.e. a minority of disruptive motorcyclists) but they have no noise mitigation program to intervene and actually deploy their own polices.

  6. boatrocker

    Argh.

    A few posters her raised the question of the double standard with megaphones this past Bele Chere ala annoying false piety preachers, but it was never addressed.

    Slow news week, perchance?

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