Administration and Regulatory Affairs
Chapter 30 - Sound And Noise Regulation FAQs
Chapter 30 of the City of Houston’s Code of Ordinances set out the regulations for noise and sound within the Houston city limits. On May 4, 2022, Houston City Council approved amendments to Chapter 30, Noise and Sound Regulations. The amendments went into effect September 6, 2022.
1. Amplified Sound Permits allow the permittee to play amplified sound to 75 d(B)A during hours prescribed by each permit type.
- Daily Permit – Single-day permit for amplified sound from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Extended Daily Permit - Multi-day events not to exceed five days from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Annual Permit – A 12-month permit for non-Commercial Establishments; renews annually; allows use of amplified sound daily from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm (Sunday – Thursday) and 8:00 am – 11:00 pm (Friday – Saturday)
- Commercial Establishment Permit - A 12-month permit; renews annually. Required for any commercial establishment within 300 feet of a residence that plays amplified sound that can be heard or appreciated outside. Valid from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm (Sunday – Thursday), 8:00 am – 11:00 pm (Friday – Saturday). Allows commercial establishments to play amplified sound outdoors to 68 d(B)A as measured from a non-residential complainant or 58 d(B)A as measured from a residential complainant from the hours of 10:01 pm – 2:00 am (Sunday – Thursday) and 11:01 pm – 2:00 am (Friday – Saturday) Note: A Commercial Establishment permittee may not play any amplified sound between 2:00 am – 8:00 am.
2. Summary of Amendments approved by Houston City Council on May 4, 2022.
- Created a commercial establishment sound permit (described herein).
- Increased the maximum citation fine from $1,000 to $2,000.
- Required that a permit be issued to an establishment rather than an individual.
- Refined the administrative hearing process for revocation of a permit.
- Codified regulations related to the issuance of a permit for a protest at a residential location.
3. What is a Commercial Establishment?
A commercial establishment is any business entity that offers for sale, or allows its patrons the ability to consume, food or beverages or any combination thereof on its premises.
4. What is a Commercial Establishment Permit?
The new Commercial Establishment Permit will be required for any Commercial Establishment that wishes to play amplified sound outdoors or amplified sound appreciated outdoors within 300 feet of a residence. The permit will:
- Allow the commercial establishment to play amplified sound to 75 d(B)A. Valid Time period:
- Sunday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
- Friday – Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
- Allow the commercial establishment to play amplified sound outdoors to the decibel reading cited in §30-5 of the Code as measured from the receiving property (68 d(B)A for commercial properties and 58 d(B)A for residential properties). Valid for time periods:
- Sunday – Thursday, 10:01 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
- Friday – Saturday, 11:01 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Note: Commercial Establishments are not allowed to play any outdoor amplified sound between 2:01 a.m. and 7:59 a.m.
5. Can an amplified sound permit be suspended or revoked?
The City may suspend or revoke a permit if the Permittee:
- Fails to comply with any applicable provisions of Chapter 30; or
- Receives two (2) or more convictions for violation of any of the provisions of Chapter 30 within a 36-month period (this applies to the Permittee or any employee/agent of the Permittee).
6. How will the administrative hearing be initiated and how will the permittee find out about it?
When the City finds grounds for suspension or revocation of a permit, the Director of Administration & Regulatory Affairs (or designee) shall provide written notice to the Permittee which will include date, time, and location of the hearing.
Written complaints from surrounding property owners may be taken into consideration in a final decision, but complaints shall not be the sole basis for suspension/revocation of a permit.
7. What is the administrative hearing process once a commercial establishment permit is suspended or revoked?
When a permit is suspended or revoked, the permittee will be notified of the specific grounds for the revocation, the date, time and place of a hearing, and the permittee may participate in the hearing or be represented by an attorney.
A permittee may submit a sound impact plan to resolve noise issues no later than 10 calendar days before the hearing. The proposed plan should include:
- Site diagram
- Technical specifications of the sound amplification equipment to be used
- Description of any sound barrier or sound mitigation device proposed to be installed in or around the outdoor area
- Method of monitoring sound amplification equipment
- Detailed plan and time schedule to perform all necessary work to complete and implement the proposed sound plan within 90 days after accepted
Only evidence presented during the hearing before the hearing officer at the hearing may be considered in rendering the final order. The hearing officer may take into consideration in his decision any written complaints received by the director from surround property owners; however, the complaints shall not be the sole basis for the suspension or revocation of the permit.
8. Can residents’ comment on the sound impact plan that can be submitted as part of the Administrative Hearing process?
No, the Hearing Official is responsible for asking questions and approving or denying the sound impact plan.
9. Can evidence about the permittee acquired before the establishment obtains a commercial establishment permit be used as a basis to revoke a commercial establishment permit?
10. When HPD responds to a noise compliant, where will the measurement for decibel readings be taken.
The measurement will be taken from the complainant’s receiving property line towards the source of the sound. The measurement needs to be taken at the complainant’s receiving property line because that is where the complainant’s comfort, rest and repose is being disrupted.
11. Can HPD write citations for violations of the ordinance?
Yes, citations may be issued for the violation of the noise and sound ordinance.
Section 30-5 sets the maximum decibel reading allow in residential or non-residential areas that do not have a Noise permit. As stated above, the noise permit allows establishments to go above the prescribed levels in Section 30-5.
Citations can be written regardless of the measurable d(B)A for the creations of any sound causing persons occupying or using any property to be aware of vibrations or resonance caused by the sound shall be prima facie evidence of a sound that unreasonable disturbs, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others.
12. How can residents file noise/sound complaints?
Avenues to file a Noise/Sound complaint with Houston Police Department:
- Phone: 713-884-3131 (non-emergency line)
- In Person: Attend a community meeting hosted by your local police station. (map and listing can be found at https://www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/hpd_beat_map.pdf; calling the station to obtain schedule will be required)
- Mail: Via postal service to the Office of the Chief of Police, 1200 Travis Street – 16th floor, Houston, Texas, 77002