Neighbors say store uses loud opera music to scare away homeless people

Austin (KXAN) — Some businesses across the country have begun using loud classical music as a tactic to keep the homeless from camping in front of their stores. People in the Riverside area of ​​Austin started complaining about this type of music from a 7-Eleven.

“I think this is so that we, the homeless (people), do not lose our property. Nobody wants to listen to classical music. Therefore, we are confused by classical music so that we do not hang out in the parking lot, ”said Kevin Morgan, a homeless resident of Austin.

KXAN has reached out to 7-Eleven for comment. We’ll update this story with a response.

Morgan had been hanging out in the area for a couple of months and said the loud opera music started playing just over a week ago.

“No one likes music because it plays all night long,” he said. “He plays all night, all day.”

Jessica Cohen also lives in the area and often shop at this 7-Eleven. She said that since the music started, she noticed that there were fewer people hanging out in front of the store.

“I was just amazed at how loud it was. It’s annoying this early in the morning,” Cohen said. “It’s not that I don’t like classical music, but that’s just gross.”

One KXAN viewer who lives in the block of flats across the street contacted us and said that he can also hear the opera music playing all night. The viewer is not alone; The city of Austin said they have received five complaints about the story since early 2023, which is when the music likely started based on Morgan’s timeline.

In accordance with the Austin Amplified Sound Ordinance, a business cannot use equipment that produces a sound louder than 85 decibels, the equivalent of a food blender, from the property line from 10:00 am to 2:00 am and from 2:00 am. before 10 am the sound must not be heard at the boundary of the property, according to the same code.

“Unfortunately, these kinds of tactics are neither new nor original. This specific tactic to keep people away from property has been used in cities across the United States,” said Daniela Silva, a former Austin City Council candidate for District 3, home of 7-Eleven. She lost to José Velazquez in the second round of elections last year.

“The reason why there are so many people here is because this is a place where you can buy food, water, there is a bus stop where people can move around. I mean, we really need to make sure people have the basic resources they need,” she said.

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