County acknowledges it did not monitor decibel levels at Sun City Music Festival

County acknowledges it did not monitor decibel levels at Sun

EL PASO, Texas - The County did not monitor sound levels at the Sun City Music Festival over the weekend, Eric Storrie, the deputy director of the County of El Paso Parks and Special Events Department, said Tuesday.

"In future shows we'll go ahead and manage sound through monitoring and ensuring that all City of El Paso ordinances are respected," Storrie said, "This year, it fell on the promoter to do that in the event, we just managed the grounds, as well as parking."

More than 25,000 people attended the festival each night over the weekend. Some homeowners near Ascarate Park, where the festival took place, told ABC-7 the loud music continued late into the night. Homeowners as far away as Hawkins and Montana also complained about the noise.

"Last year, it was bad, but we tolerated it somewhat. This year, it was like it was twice as loud, if not more," said Lewayne Griegert, who lives near Ascarate Park. "The beat, the beat of the bass shook the windows, the walls, and came up through the floors."

Monday, festival promoter Evan Bailey told ABC-7 decibel levels for the massive dance music festival were "under legal limits." Ascarate Park is owned and operated by the County.

When asked if the county could back up what the promoter said, Storrie replied, "On our end, it didn't fall into our scope. We will look to do so in the future to make sure our residents and our businesses are not impacted in a negative way."

A City of El Paso ordinance requires decibel levels to be in between 50 and 55, depending on the time of day, for a residential area. For commercial properties, decibel levels must be in between 60 and 65; for manufacturers, in between 65 and 70. The lower decibel level in each zone applies after 10 p.m.

Steve Haddad, a UTEP music teacher, told ABC-7 he's measured decibel levels above 130 at some electronic dance music festivals in the past.

"To make bass we have to move a large quantity of air, whether we do it electronically or we do it naturally, we have to move a lot of air," Haddad said, "If we also want the bass to be loud, the air can literally become impactful."

Haddad said trees, canopies and sound barriers will stop high frequencies, but not low frequencies. "Even distance is a bad stopper of low frequencies. Once that wave is moving in a high velocity in the air, it will go a long, long way," Haddad said, "It would be the bass frequencies that you heard and those are the only frequencies that have enough energy to actually rattle a window or move something."

The music teacher said that when you take that aspect of bass propagation and "put a few hundred thousand watts on it, making enough movement of air, that bass will go almost anywhere."

Haddad says if  homeowners as far away as the Cielo Vista area felt the bass, then the sound levels at the music festival "would have far exceeded 120 decibels for it to move that much."

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