Minneapolis ordinance would put earplugs in music venues

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Staff Writer
  • Updated: March 14, 2014 - 2:04 PM
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Music venues such as First Avenue in Minneapolis would be affected by the earplug proposal. In this photo, Black Diet performs on the main stage at Are You Local on March 6, 2014.

Photo: Leslie Plesser, Special to the Star Tribune

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An ordinance slated for a hearing at City Hall would require Minneapolis bars and restaurants with live music and dancing to carry earplugs. The sponsor, Council Member Jacob Frey, said the earplugs would be provided -- free of charge -- by a private company.

The idea originated, Frey said, after a man named Brian Felsen, working in conjunction with Miracle Ear and 3M, approached the city.

“When you look at the combination of some of these kids that walk around with headphones for 95 percent of the day and then go to the club at night and blast their eardrums out again, it’s a problem," Frey said.

“What Miracle Ear and actually 3M are doing is they’re providing [earplugs] free of charge, so none of these businesses pay a dime, not a single dime," Frey said. "And all the city’s asking is that you just have them. Have the earplugs on hand.”

Frey said he thinks this may the first program of its kind in the country.

The proposed ordinance, which will get a hearing on April 1, would apply to Class A and Class B liquor licenses. Those are businesses that can have live music with unlimited performers, disc jockeys and all forms of entertainment.

Other bars and restaurants, with lesser liquor licenses, would not be affected.

The ordinance says that the earplugs must have a Noise Reduction Rating of at least 30 decibels. It also says that the city may develop rules about required signage and notification to patrons.

Felson did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Deepak Nath, one of the owners of The Pourhouse on Hennepin Avenue, said he was generally supportive of the proposal.

“My position would be that if the government can provide a tool for us to do good or to provide safety and comfort for our customers, I’m all supportive of doing the right thing because its at no cost so it’s a no brainer," Nath said.

"As a conservative, I’m not a big fan of being mandated to do it. But ... I know Jacob’s motivations are pure and when he has the ability to provide something at no cost, the city should take advantage of those types of things.”

Here is the most recent version of the ordinance:

364.115. Hearing protection devices. All Class A and Class B on-sale liquor, wine and beer licensees shall have and make available, free of charge, hearing protection devices to all patrons and employees. Such single-use earplugs must have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of at least thirty (30) decibels. The requirement imposed by this section shall not apply unless the license official has identified a source or supplier of such hearing protection devices that is capable of providing sufficient devices free of charge to all such establishments. The license official may develop reasonable rules regarding required signage or notification to patrons regarding the devices and their availability.

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