The DC Harmony Coalition is a diverse group of hundreds of District residents and businesses, including parents, teachers, senior citizens, as well as medical facilities, hotels, restaurants, and nonprofit organizations from throughout the city that are working in support of legislation to provide relief from the excessive sound levels projected by some street performers and to find a reasonable and enforceable balance between two legitimate, but sometimes conflicting, uses in DC’s vibrant, mixed-use environment.

The District’s current Noise Control Act is 40 years old, inadequate, and unenforceable. Its provisions do not cover street performers’ sound levels in downtown and do not effectively address the widespread availability of portable amplification. It also does not take into account the current cultural shift taking place as the result of COVID-19: the majority of DC residents who are now working and learning from home, and the question of how many will remain at home long past the pandemic.

The DC Harmony Coalition supports proposed legislation that would address this pressing issue. Other cities have successfully defined the balance between street performers continuing to play and making a living and residents and workers reasonable use and enjoyment of their homes and workplaces; union activity has not stopped, and First Amendment rights have not been infringed. Examples of cities that successfully addressed this issue include Boston, Cambridge, Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Portland, and San Francisco.

No one is attempting to regulate or limit the type or content of any speech. There is no interest from anyone to stop street performers or their ability to attract, entertain, and solicit donations. It is specifically an issue of excessive volume impacting the health, safety, and well-being of District residents in their homes and businesses.

2021 DC Harmony Coalition