Friday, November 14, 2008

Dear Metro Council, Please Don’t Sphincterize Nashville

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 5:40 AM

click to enlarge Lower_20Broad.jpg
Go to any big city hall in America, and you’ll find someone who can cite chapter and verse from the Creative Class theory. In a nutshell: It says that if a city attracts the young, artistic, and creative, they will create the businesses and events that attract others. Throw in new immigrants to rebuild the more tattered parts of town, and eventually you have a 24-hour city that becomes the epicenter of cool throughout the region. To the uninitiated, it may sound a little goofy. But it’s the recurring centerpiece in virtually every vibrant New Economy city, from Boston to Austin, Portland to Minneapolis. With the natural advantage of the music industry, Nashville already does quite well in this area. Except that the city seems dead set on killing it. Begin with the attempt to keep the decibels on Lower Broadway to the level of a tractor-trailer. A councilman’s children heard naughty words coming from outdoor speakers. And new condo residents only wanted noisy fun when they were out on the town, not during their nights in. So began the movement to limit music to 85 decibels, though Lower Broad, with its packed sidewalks at midnight on Mondays, is the kind of street most city planners would trade their BlackBerrys for. Cooler heads prevailed. Yet the bigger worry is that some on council seem oblivious to the treasure they have. Now Councilwoman Anna Page wants to limit drinking at after-hours clubs to 3 a.m., a move that would essentially kill them. She makes a point that some are causing problems. So in the blunt force ways of government, she’s hoping to whack them all. Never mind that such moves are contrary to reigning urban planning theory. Never mind that the very people cities are trying to attract tend to play at different hours than, say, members of the city council. Like gay marriage, these kinds of sweeping restrictions play well with the Decent People. The councilwoman gets to look like a hero. But a nice little piece of personal freedom is lost. And Nashville takes one step closer to sterility. So we ask the Metro Council: The next time you get an urge to go sphincter, could you please stop, take a deep breath, and think about your assault on good-natured fun? There’s already one Salt Lake City. We should try to avoid becoming the second.

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