St. Petersburg FlPublic Opinion by author: Robert Neff
The proposed noise ordinance has Whereas clauses that justify the proposed ordinance. These are not carried forward into the actual municipal code. There are four Whereas clauses that discuss how sound is harmful to residents, but there is another Whereas clause that discusses how the City intends to treat the commercial establishments who have helped the City prosper. To protect the bars, restaurants, and cafes, Mayor Kriseman is gaslighting residents and throwing residents under the bus.
WHEREAS, the City intends to treat the commercial establishments who have helped the City prosper fairly and recognizes the right to free speech enjoyed by those establishments and their need to utilize amplified sound as a means of continuing their successful commercial endeavors; andThe City had spent $5,700 to hire an acoustical noise expert to study the downtown noise and mechanical noise. The three acoustical studies identified downtown St. Petersburg noise issues.
The bar, restaurant, and cafe's excessive noise has caused residents to experience medical issues related to noise, such as, stress, anxiety, and increased heart rate.
In 2013, According to St. Petersburg Police Department Incident/Investigation Report 2013-041269, police responded to a resident, who stated, "...that since Club Detroit opened, she has been "deprived of sleep" due to the vibration the club's music emits. She added that recently it has been giving her headaches and has been making her very nauseous. She said overall the vibration from the bass is affecting her sleep and physical well being."
In the proposed noise ordinance, the City has four "Whereas" paragraphs recognizing how harmful noise is. However, the City refused to hire a medical expert to provide a report on the harmful effect noise has on adult and kids health. This would have also served to educate Mayor Kriseman, City Council, Police, City staff, business and residents. This could have been the basis for a community education and outreach program.
While the proposed noise ordinance changes the penalties and adds motorboats, the time and distance requirements do not change for residents downtown or in the City's neighborhoods. With 2019 noise calls are trending much higher than 2018, noise is getting worse for residents in the City. The citation rates have dropped under Mayor Kriseman and are abysmal.
Bars have filed lawsuits against three residents for calling the police. The last lawsuit was in 2016, Edge Partners d/b/a Flamingo Resort vs. Neff, which the Judge dismissed. The lawsuits have had a chilling effect on the community. Many residents have given up and stopped calling the police.
A Public Records Request exposed Mayor Kriseman's disdain for the noise ordinance. On April 11, 2017, Mayor Kriseman asked Police Chief Holloway to enforce the noise ordinance for two weeks in 2017. What were the police doing the other 50 weeks? What did Mayor Kriseman tell Police Chief Holloway to do in 2014? 2015? 2016? 2018?
The four health-related clauses sound like the City cares, but, if Mayor Kriseman refused to hire a medical expert, how can residents trust the City to protect our health when Mayor Kriseman is not enforcing the noise ordinance and is recognizing businesses who have helped the City prosper?
In addition to finding Mayor Kriseman's email, another Public Records Request provided several emails where Council Member Kornell, Police Community Service Officer Kelly, and Flamingo Resort owner, who is Board President for the Skyway Marina District, develop a strategy to deal with a resident who reported noise to the police, and Mayor Kriseman, and City Council. This email was not provided in the first Public Records Request, but was responsive in another request six months later.
What else is the City hiding?
Here are the proposed noise ordinance's "Whereas" clauses:
WHEREAS, residents of the City of St. Petersburg have a right to express themselves and enjoy the sounds that enhance the quality of their lives; and
WHEREAS, excessive amplified sound can be a serious hazard to the public health, welfare, safety, and the quality of life for City residents; and
WHEREAS, City residents have a right to be free from harmful and disturbing levels of sound; and
WHEREAS, the City has a substantial interest in protecting its residents from harmful and disturbing levels of sound; and
WHEREAS, it is the policy of the City to prevent harmful and disturbing levels of sound that may jeopardize the health, welfare, or safety of its citizens or degrade the quality of life while protecting the rights of citizens to enjoy sounds that are important to their quality of life and necessary for daily work and leisure activities; and
WHEREAS, the City intends to treat the commercial establishments who have helped the City prosper fairly and recognizes the right to free speech enjoyed by those establishments and their need to utilize amplified sound as a means of continuing their successful commercial endeavors; and
WHEREAS, the City’s enactment and enforcement of the provisions of this ordinance shall be content neutral with regard to the regulated sound.