Cheer Up Charlies Tries to Regain Trust
A city sound ordinance is still making noise in East Austin. In August, the Austin Music Commission served Cheer Up Charlies, an East Austin bar, with a new sound permit that reduced the hours it could play amplified music outdoors; owner Tamara Hoover says the change is costing the bar money.
On Monday, Hoover met with the music commission again. Hoover, a former teacher with a pixie haircut, presented maps drawn with colorful arrows representing her efforts to compromise with 12 neighbors about a new city sound ordinance that she says is cutting into her revenues.
Neighborhood complaints about the bar’s noise have led to new city rules that apply to Cheer Up Charlies. Those rules cut back the hours when the bar can play amplified sound outdoors, until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Hoover has since appealed, receiving support from 12 neighbors for her proposal to extend the outdoor amplified noise hours to midnight on weekends.
But none of the dissenting neighbors from the Guadalupe Association for an Improved Neighborhood showed up at Monday’s meeting. That, and the fact that Cheer Up Charlies has not always adhered to previous curfews, made commissioner Rich Garza nervous about supporting Hoover’s proposal.
“There’s this big lack of trust because no matter when the times are supposed to be cut off, unfortunately they’re not honored,” Garza said. “And I don’t know how true that is or isn’t, but that seems to be what the issue is here, and I get scared that this is a slippery slope.”
Hoover admits breaking curfew in her first year of operation, but says she has since made big changes, like building a sound mitigation shell, hiring sound engineers and booking more daytime gigs. She says she has learned from her past.
“It’s such an interesting thing to figure out how to regain trust,” Hoover said. “You can’t ever make a person trust you again, you can’t force them to. But hopefully over time they’ll say, ‘okay, they’re doing their best,’ and hopefully they’ll give a little when they see that we’re giving a little as well.”
The actual appeals process begins Nov. 1; Monday’s meeting was to clarify facts and positions. The music commission did unanimously recommend that Cheer Up Charlies’ proposal be “strongly considered” when the panel decides whether to allow the bar to extend its outdoor music hours.