Fight Over Smoke Threatens Sacred Texas BBQ

Austin decides not to regulate, but neighbors of one restaurant have sued
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2015 7:56 AM CDT
Fight Over Smoke Threatens Sacred Texas BBQ
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Austin is a barbecue town, and anyone who lives there "may very well live downwind of a barbecue joint," notes a post at Munchies. That may sound great, but for those who live too close, the smoke can be a real problem. After neighbors complained, a city council member floated the idea of regulating the smoke, and this week, the neighbors got their answer: "The city came down squarely on the side of Texas barbecue," writes the Smithsonian. Specifically, the idea of regulation effectively died in committee, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Instead, residents will have to be content with calling 311, and the city will deal with complaints on a case-by-case basis.

“To make all BBQ places put this in would crush the industry and put a lot of people out of work,” the president of the Austin Restaurant Association tells KXAN, referring to pricey air-purifying gear. Still, local joints are pledging to play nice and to make adjustments—the placement of smokers, how much wood is used, etc—when neighbors complain. Don't expect the volatile issue to go away quietly, however. (Even Rush Limbaugh got involved, though he got his facts wrong, according to Politifact.) Neighbors have filed suit against Terry's Black Barbecue, complaining about potential health risks and the inability to enjoy their own property, notes Eater. As a result, a council member on the Health and Human Services panel says the city may have to revisit the issue down the road. (Meanwhile, if a backyard BBQ is in your future, consider marinating with beer.)

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