Case dismissed! Campaign for "Community Performances" Amendment begins

Join this Wednesday’s (Feb. 8 2023) hearing and/or write a comment letter ASAP. 

The videos and written testimony sent by you, our readers, and 13th Ave small business support provided a key contrast to the city’s lack of a witness at a noise citation hearing last week. The noise citation was leveled at Wax Trax’s Sidewalk Shows, causing the mini-show series to relocate in late October last year.  The hearing officer in the case, Samuel Macon Cowles III, concluded the hearing with a warning about future shows:

“The fact that other people in the community love it doesn’t matter here,” said Cowles. “People are prepared to demonstrate support, but there’s an empty chair from the person that claimed this was unwanted noise… I dismissed this case because the city didn’t prove that this is unwanted. The City didn’t bring a witness. Take this as another warning because if the city finds a witness they may be able to establish a violation that would not be dismissed.”

To thwart this ongoing threat to the beloved sidewalk shows, Wax Trax has created the “Capitol Hill Community Performances” amendment to Denver’s Noise Control Ordinance. The Amendment would add certain language to the ordinance that would allow anyone to hold a show on their private property in Capitol Hill as long as it has a very low impact on their neighbors. Namely, the shows would need to be free to the public (so the neighbors can come over), last no longer than 2 hours between 12 and 6pm on a weekend or holiday, sell no alcohol, and be no louder than 80 decibels (which similar to the sound of heavy traffic downtown). The sound level restriction is the same as a festival permit would provide, but the far shorter “community performance” would be allowed unpermitted on private property, thus allowing for much smaller low budget performances. The amendment is restricted to live music, created by musicians on the premises. 

The amendment is limited to live music. It is inclusive of turntablists and producers using turntables as instruments, but would not allow for traditional DJ’s who primarily spin other people’s music. This is seen as another way to reduce the potential impact on neighbors. 

“We need every Denver resident we can get to write a letter, or show up to the city’s Zoom hearing this Wednesday at 6pm,” said Wax Trax co-owner/manager Pete Stidman. “The only way we can keep the sidewalk shows alive is to get a strong showing of community support and convince our City Council and the Department of Environmental Health that the shows are a great thing for building social connections, bringing the music and arts of Capitol Hill out into the streets, and promoting a healthy neighborhood.” 

What you can do:

Sign our petition:

Attend the City’s Feb. 8, 6pm hearing via Zoom using this link:

Here are some talking points for that hearing.

Send a letter of support for the amendment: [email protected] and please cc [email protected]

Send that same letter to your City Councilors at Large: [email protected][email protected]

Send that same letter to your own local city councilor by finding them here

Read the CHCP amendment itself:

Take the city’s lame survey. 

Cowles' decision to dismiss the case followed a cross-examination of noise investigator Justin Lamascis by Stidman. Stidman established that Lamascis told him when delivering the first noise warning, back in September of 2022, that it would be impossible to play music at all without violating the noise ordinance, since the ordinance restricts noise to 55 decibels and the ambient sound in the neighborhood was measured at 58.5 decibels. 

Lamascis also admitted that he relayed a message from Stidman to the complainant inviting her to come and talk and figure out an amicable solution. But when asked if he told Stidman that her response to that invitation was that she “couldn’t be bothered,” Lamascis said “I… I don’t recall.” 

The language was repeated when Hearing Officer Cowles dismissed the case, noting that the witness “could not be bothered” to attend the hearing.