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City Seeks to Streamline Permitting Process for Music Venues

A band plays the Mohawk last year. Venues like the Mohawk may be eligible to participate in a soundproofing program for Downtown clubs.
The City of Austin is attempting to simplify its permitting process for new music venues.

The recent Austin Music Census collected various concerns about how the City handles permits for local music venues. But, a new way of doing business has been moving its way through the city's bureaucracy.

Right now, there are roughly a dozen permits most music venues in the city need to have before doing business. There’s a liquor license, a public assembly permit and a permit to serve food. And that’s just a sample. But throw them all together, plus the fact that they come from different departments, and it’s pretty easy to get mired down in the red tape.

“Businesses are crying out for an easier way to navigate the city’s permitting process,” says David Murray, who works for the City’s Music and Entertainment Division. His office is proposing bundling most of those permits up – into an entertainment license. “We envision this being a centralized location for all of those needed requirements in one place – a true one-stop shop.”

Murray says the City’s also hoping to make this license cheaper than the total amount of all these necessary permits – which can cost upwards of $1,000. Plus, some of these permits need to be renewed each year. The entertainment license would last for two years. But what about bad actors?

If you violate a permit, it can be revoked. If all the permits are grouped into one, then a single violation could strip you of the whole license. Murray says there will be some way to deal with those who defy permit requirements, hopefully, without putting the whole license on the line.

The entertainment license is still being heard by the boards and commissions committee. Action from the full Council is expected by the end of this year.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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