AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some businesses around the country have started using roaring classical music as a tactic to deter people experiencing homelessness from camping out in front of their storefronts. People in Austin’s Riverside neighborhood have started complaining about this type of music coming from one 7-Eleven.
“I think it’s to keep us homeless (people) off of their property. No one wants to listen to classical music. So they run us off by the classical music, so we don’t hang out in the parking lot,” said Kevin Morgan, an Austin man experiencing homelessness.
KXAN reached out to 7-Eleven for comment. We will update this story with a response.
Morgan has been hanging out in the area for a couple of months, and he said the loud opera music started playing a little over a week ago.
“Nobody likes the music because it is going all night,” he said. “It plays all night, all day.”
Jessica Cohen also lives in the area and frequently shops at this 7-Eleven. Since the music started, she said she has observed fewer people hanging out in the front of the store.
“I was just astounded by how loud it was. Annoying, this early in the morning,” Cohen said. “Not that I don’t love classical music, but this is just rude.”
One KXAN viewer who lives in an apartment building opposite the building contacted us, saying he could also hear the opera music playing throughout the night. The viewer is not alone; the City of Austin said they received five complaints for the store since the start of 2023 when the music likely started, based on Morgan’s timeline.
According to Austin’s Code of Ordinance of amplified sound, a business may not operate equipment that produces a sound louder than 85 decibels, equivalent to that of a food blender, from the property line between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. And from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m., the sound should not be audible at the property line, according to the same code.
“Unfortunately, these kinds of tactics are not new or original. This specific tactic to keep people away from properties has been used in cities across the United States,” said Daniela Silva, a former Austin City Council Member candidate for District 3, where the 7-Eleven is located. She lost to José Velásquez in the run-off election last year.
“The reason that so many people are here is because this is a place where you can get food, you can get water, there’s a bus stop where people can get around. I mean, what we really need to be doing is making it so that people have the basic resources that they need,” she said.