White Oak Residents to File Bond to Preserve Silent Nights

Originally Published by The Houston  Chronicle

Families from three Houston neighborhoods spent Sunday in the frigid cold raising money for the legal fight against the developers of the outdoor White Oak Music Hall.

Monday morning at 10:30 a.m., Houston Attorney Cris Feldman will join neighborhood representatives on the steps of the Harris County Civil Courthouse to address the media.

Feldman will call on Mayor Turner to yank permits for an outdoor permanent stage. “It is time for the Mayor to choose,” says Feldman. “Will he stand with the children who just want a good night’s sleep, or with the greedy developers who put an outdoor concert hall in the middle of established working class neighborhoods.”

Residents hosted a community garage and bake sale to help raise the $7,500 bond to enforce their recent restraining order against White Oak Music Hall.

Harris County State District Judge Michael Gomez on Friday temporarily stopped outdoor concerts at the White Oak Music Hall after nine neighbors sued the venue, preventing the live music complex from hosting any events outside that feature electronically amplified sound.

Gomez, the Harris County judge, made his decision despite objections from the music hall, which argued it could lose its reputation and revenue.

The temporary restraining order expires Dec. 30, but residents are looking to extend it until their Jan. 12 injunction hearing.

They are trying to raise money for legal fees “for the big courtroom battles ahead.”

“This is ongoing, thunderous music that shakes homes,” said Houston attorney Cris Feldman. “It’s a constant rock festival in everyone’s backyard.”

“We never know, the noise could come on a Monday, a Wednesday night, a Friday,” said Kiki Przewlocki, a resident who said her home is in the music’s “direct line of fire.” “The windows rattle … I mean, I can feel the bass in my bones.”

Przewlocki, a musician, said it’s not just the music, but the collective frustrations that different events at White Oak bring to the neighborhood, even on school nights.

That’s why another neighbor, Linda Longoria-Vargas, joined their effort. The night before the first day of school this year, Longoria-Vargas had to console her young daughter who was crying and couldn’t sleep.

“Mommy, don’t they even care about us?” her daughter said.

If the sporadic loud noises weren’t enough, there’s also the neighborhood traffic and safety concerns that accompany the venue’s functions. Neighbors also complained that some concert-goers urinate in front yards and on neighbors’ cars.

“It doesn’t actually end with the concert,” Longoria-Vargas said. “You still hear cops, or screaming, or dogs.”

On Sunday, residents sold everything from cookies and doughnuts to school supplies and mini-terracotta soldiers.

“It is sad that these good folks have to now raise money to stop this sound invasion from their greedy corporate neighbors, just so their kids can sleep at night,” Feldman said.