There’s a new kind of hush in the Spanish city of Seville. It’s called peace and quiet.
The home of flamenco, the raucous April Fair and cheerful bar scene is toning it down a notch after legislators passed an ordinance to ban city noise.
Out go outdoor domino games and street singing, among others; in come restful nights for its 700,000-strong residents.
“It’s a balance between the right of residents to get a little rest and the development of economic activities,” city councilor Maximiliano Vílchez was quoted as saying by Britain’s The Guardian.
In fact, residents have been waging a long and arduous campaign. Last year, 4,000 signed a petition in which they complained about having to put up with screaming football fans, exhausting nights and schoolchildren not being able to do their homework because of the noise.
With the new ordinance, city authorities are telling operators of outdoor cafes and bars to rein in rowdy customers. They can no longer set up televisions outside their premises during football matches and bartenders are no longer allowed to roll beer kegs in the streets or drag chairs on the sidewalk — or they face a fine of up to 300,000 euros (US$402,900).
Also, motorists can’t play loud music while driving nor unnecessarily rev up up their engines. Neither are they allowed to install a car alarm system that goes off more than three minutes.
But religious processions, the highlight of Holy Week, are exempt. The famous April Fair goes on but a little on the sedate side.
You’d think all that sound-proofing would appease Sevilleans. Apparently not.
Many residents say the ordinance doesn’t go far enough. Karaoke bars and nightclubs are still allowed next to homes and the new rules don’t regulate noise levels.
Which leads us to the obvious question: Who decides what’s noisy?
The police, apparently. Problem is, they’re equipped with batons and flashlights but they have nothing with which to measure decibels.
You’d have to scream in their ear to get booked.
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