PORTLAND — A new ordinance is on the horizon to help curb noise complaints and better regulate entertainment licenses.

The City Council held a workshop Monday on a new entertainment sound ordinance and are expected to hold a second, final, reading on the matter on July 15. The measure had a first reading June 17.

The new ordinance would change the entertainment license categories from entertainment with dancing or entertainment without dancing to indoor entertainment, outdoor entertainment, or combined entertainment; set new sound limits, and require applicants to have a sound mitigation plan.

Jessica Hanscombe, the city’s licensing and housing safety manager, said the goal is to “find a middle ground between residents and business owners.”

The new ordinance, Hanscombe explained, would require businesses or individuals to obtain a specific license for indoor entertainment, outdoor entertainment or combined indoor/outdoor entertainment. Single entertainment licenses would also be available if an applicant plans to hold five or fewer events annually. A deposit of $100 to $1,000 – based on the number of attendees – would be required for single entertainment licenses.

Sound levels would be limited to 85 decibels for mid-wave frequencies and 95 decibels for bass or low-range frequencies. Measurements would be taken 8 feet from the closest exit or wall for indoor entertainment, and from the property line closest to the noise for outdoor entertainment.

“We want to gauge it to see how it is impacting the complainants,” acting Police Chief Vern Malloch said.

According to data from the city’s Sound Oversight Committee, during the three-month period from March-May, more than 100 sound complaints were filed with the city, many about noise coming from businesses.

Indoor entertainment would be limited to 8 a.m.-1 a.m., regardless of the day of the week. Outdoor entertainment would be limited from 8 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday. Applicants can apply for a $100 per event expanded entertainment addendum if they intend to host entertainment after hours or beyond the noise threshold.

The ordinance would require new applicants to file an engineer-approved sound mitigation plan with the city.

Councilor Belinda Ray said the Health and Human Services Committee, which she chairs, unanimously approved the new ordinance language at its May 14 meeting.

“We were really satisfied with all the work staff had done on this,” she said Monday.

If necessary, the Sound Oversight Committee would still meet with applicants and licensees who have had sound complaints filed against them to figure out other ways to mitigate noise.

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