A new noise curfew has been placed on property outside Austin city limits after a dispute between the owners of a popular festival site and a neighboring farmer. Travis County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to begin enforcing time limits to put them more in line with Austin proper.
The limits were put in place after the owners of Johnson’s Backyard Garden, an organic farm, complained about noise levels at the nearby Carson Creek Ranch, which for the past few years has been hosting multi-day events including the Euphoria Music & Camping Festival and Levitation. Carson Creek owner Joan Harvard told KTBC-TV, the local Fox affiliate, that the property’s location near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport prohibits them from developing housing, so hosting festivals is a way to make money.
Festivals in the county were previously allowed to operate all night, Woodstock-style, but now the music must stop at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Noise levels were also set at 70 decibels. “I don't think having limits that are even more generous than the City's is going to drive music out of the County,” said Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea. “If I thought that were the case, I wouldn't have supported any of it.”
According to AustinNoise.org, outdoor venues in Austin city must pipe down at 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 10:30 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday and 11 p.m. on Thursday. During SXSW, the curfew appears to be extended to 2 a.m. Limits on decibel levels in the city vary based on type of venue.
Harvard and other festival organizers in Travis County are allowed to petition the commission to make exceptions to the curfew when applying for a permit.