City announces new SXSW sound permitting process
Venues planning concerts during South by Southwest this year will have to apply for city sound permits earlier than ever before.
New rules require applications for multiday sound permits be turned in a full month ahead of time, the City of Austin said Wednesday.
SXSW will run March 9-18, which means that plans for multiday events that start on the festival's first day must be submitted for review by Feb. 8.
A steady increase in businesses seeking permits in recent years prompted the changes, the city said.
In previous years, planners of concerts spanning multiple days were required to notify the city of their intent to apply for a permit at least 14 days in advance.
Requests for 24-hour sound permits are due at least 21 days in advance. Previously, there was no hard-and-fast deadline.
Last year, a city spokeswoman said, 40 percent of requests for 24-hour permits were submitted within five days of when events were scheduled to occur.
In addition, insurance is now required for any venue serving alcohol.
In 2011, 45 multiday requests were received, up from 37 in 2010. Seven of the applications were denied last year, according to city records obtained by the American-Statesman.
Attempts to obtain temporary use permits, which allow events to take place in areas where zoning would otherwise bar them, jumped 60 percent, from 43 to 69. Four requests were declined in 2011.
The number of 24-hour permits sought — 29 — was unchanged between 2010 and 2011. All of last year's requests were approved.
"This provides us the opportunity to enhance collaboration between various city departments and event planners," said Greg Guernsey, Austin's director of planning and development review.
"The new requirements allow sufficient time to perform interdepartmental evaluations and site inspections prior to an event " he said.
Items reviewed during the approval process, according to the city, include attendance estimates, parking and traffic implications, planned security and medical staffing, and the anticipated effect on areas adjacent to the venue.
"We are taking a more proactive approach to ensure safe and successful events during South by Southwest — working more closely with venues and promoters before and during the events," said Don Pitts, the city's music program manager.
Permit applications can be submitted online at http://austintexas.gov/soundpermit.