Sunday, March 31, 2019

Trophy Fish’s 2018 Repeat Noise Nuisance Calls

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff
A resident or individual in a car or on a motorcycle in the City is more likely to be issued a citation than a bar, restaurant or cafe.
Trophy Fished opened in May 2018. There was a noise complaint made to the police every month but October, but no citations for noise were issued. 

  • 8 Noise complaints but Police Records only show 3. The remaining five are for the intersection, where Trophy Fish is named, except one. If you searched the Police call logs or Police CAD Reporting system for noise calls at the address, there would only be three confirmed noise calls. 
  • Six (6) calls are in violation of the Noise Ordinance time requirement. Yet, Police issued no citations.
  • Data proves police lack proper documentation of the source, thus, noise calls are underreported. 
  • Police reported the speakers were seen to be pointing out. Was this reported to Codes? Didn’t the City require a noise plan for establishment before the Trophy Fish opened? 
The Getaway in Maximo Marina was required to submit a noise plan. For past couple months, there has been outdoor music.  The music can be heard on the adjacent property at the Moorings of Maximo Condominium. I have heard the music in my residence. 

The calls highlight an issue the police have managing repeat calls. There is no management. The Police are not tracking the repeat calls. Residents give up calling the police. 

The new noise ordinance requires warnings and penalties for repeat calls. How are the police going to manage this when they currently do not. In the City presentations to Public Services & Infrastructure, there was no discussion on this. The City Council needs to address this before voting on the new noise ordinance revision.  

The calls identify another issue. The police do not properly identify the the source and address, thus repeat calls are under counted. Initial search for "2-6- Central Av" revealed three calls when there were more calls. If police do not properly manage the source address, how are repeat calls to be identified? 

However, we know the Police and City are not enforcing the noise ordinance when Police make multiple requests to the location asking them to turn down the noise. 

How do we know? 

The noise ordinance is discretionary and the Mayor and Police are not required to enforce it. See Mayor Kriseman's email to Police Chief Holloway.

We also know City Council Member Kornell worked with the Community Service Officer Kelly, and Flamingo Resort Owner Jack Dougherty, who is Board President for the Skyway Marina District, to develop a strategy to deal with me when I emailed Mayor Kriseman about the noise.   

Penalties are addressed in the revised noise ordinance, reference City's LDR 2019-02 Draft Ordinance, Section 11-50. — Penalty. 
The first violation of any provision of this division shall result in a written warning. The second violation of any provision of this division within 365 days after a written warning is issued is punishable by a fine in the amount of $500.00. Subsequent violations of this division issued within a one year of another a violation resulting in a $500.00 fine, which has been disposed of in any way other than a dismissal or finding of not guilty by a court, shall be punishable by a fine of $500.00. For any additional violation of this division within 365 days of two violations which resulted in a fine of $500.00 as prescribed herein, and which have been disposed of in any way other than a dismissal or finding of not guilty by a court, the City may impose a thirty (30) day suspension of a City issued extended hours permit for establishments serving alcoholic beverages or a sidewalk café permit, or both. Concurrent with or independent of any sidewalk café or extended hours permit suspension imposed by the City following two violations which resulted in a fine of $500.00 fine within 365 days, the City may also require preparation of a noise mitigation and monitoring plan in accordance with Section 16.50.310.3 within 90 days of the violation.

Penalties bring up another issue — the audio of the resident who called. This is evidence the police could use or the resident or bar could use to fight the penalty, but it is deleted after 90 days.

Data, comments, images and Call For Service Reports are Public Record. 

The opinions here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bay Post Internet or the Blog Publishers where it appears.
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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Where to live in St. Petersburg — Downtown or OUTSIDE Downtown?

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion 
By author: Robert Neff

In 2018, the City of St. Petersburg had 2517 noise calls and an additional 413 calls for loud party. If you separate the calls between outside downtown and downtown, outside downtown is 12 times as noisy as downtown. No wonder everyone wants to move downtown!

While that last line is a parody of sorts, the real issue is downtown has had all the press and that is no laughing matter. The City is growing and bars, clubs, restaurants and cafe's with outdoor music are encroaching on residential areas. While neighborhoods outside of downtown are desperate for growth, residents need to start the noise conversation with the neighborhood leads. Or you will "face" the noise.

While the Mayor, City Council, news media are focused on the downtown area, the real issue is outside downtown. No matter how many times the news media interviews a resident or shows a bar, it’s downtown. 
News media may want to look at the data instead of producing softball videos and softball articles. Instead of producing "sensational" work, go old school, investigate and report.
Tampa Bay's news media has forgotten how to produce local investigative reporting and have abandoned Tampa Bay residents.
Up until March 2017, when I provided the data to the City, they thought the noise problem was downtown. The data proved them wrong. City was in the process of revising the noise ordinance, and had not even bothered to look at the data. 
But the data discloses many questions. Where are all those calls? How do you categorize them? In the absence of a City effort and report to understand the location and how to categorize the calls, I have categorized the data based upon the locations provided. The City does provide some of the names for bars, restaurants and cafes, and some apartment and condominium complexes, but, as you can see, there are many more unidentified addresses.

The noise calls assigned to residences, businesses and hotels need to be reviewed to ascertain if the call was properly assigned to that address or if it was for another location, for example, a residence or an intersection. To verify the source, one has to obtain and review the Police's Call For Service Report(s). The table poses more questions, but I do not have access to the City's data and personnel to address the questions. Therefore, the City would need to provide more detail.

Look at patterns for both downtown and outside downtown.  

If you combine the downtown's bars, restaurants and cafe's, they out number downtown residences. The number has increased for some bars, because the Police do not always assign the call to the source. The number of calls can be refined by reviewing the Police Call For Service Reports to determine the call source. Then the report's tally for each location can be fine tuned.

Outside downtown, residences and businesses have far more calls than bars, restaurants and cafes combined. Parks are popular areas for noise calls. 
A resident or individual in a car or on a motorcycle in the City of St.Petersburg playing music too loud is more likely to be issued a citation than a bar, restaurant or cafe. The City may want to check the citations to if some areas have more citations than other areas.

The City of St. Petersburg can reduce the calls if the Police enforce the noise ordinance and the Mayor gives the order to the Police Chief. Unfortunately, the Mayor seems to be enforcing the noise ordinance at his discretion, and so are police. You should read Mayor Kriseman's email to Police Chief Holloway at the end of the article. How many more emails are there like this?

In Mayor Kriseman's email, he mentioned the "broken window" theory. That is, if noise calls can be reduced, then crime can be reduced. In past years, some bars have seen 4 to 7 times as many crime calls than noise calls at multiple bars. The City can easily look into this. The City can easily provide this information to the neighborhood meetings.

When the City does not provide reporting, or provides inaccurate reporting, the City puts residents at risk. Residents have been confronted, trolled online, or identified as a problem. City Council Members has stated they are residents who are, and to paraphrase, problem callers. The news media is not covering this aspect. 
Just by calling the police to report noise, you put yourself at risk, because Mayor Kriseman and Police are not enforcing the noise ordinance. 
The revised noise ordinance maintains the "Plainly audible" standard, and that is just one problem with the ordinance. Residents have stood with police officers and heard the noise or bass, but the police were unable to hear it. Plainly audible is based on time, distance, and zoning. However, sound does not discriminate, yet, the City and Police discriminate against residents who call about the noise, and this includes those over 60.

The noise ordinance's time, distance and zoning work against residents who live too close to a bar.  In one instance, Police have met with a downtown resident and confirmed a downtown bar's noise, but did not issue a citation. According to St. Petersburg Police Department, Incident Report, Case Number: 2017-010636, Officer states, "THERE WAS NO ONE CITED AT THIS TIME, DUE TO THE DISTANCE OF THE BAR TO THE VICTIMS HOUSE NO VIOLATION OCCURRED." 

The noise ordinance and the new noise ordinance is riddled with language that supports bars. This will be discussed in another article.

This email from Mayor Kriseman to Police Chief Holloway will help you understand why the City of St. Petersburg has an abysmal citation rate.   

Data Notes: The unidentified category is all the addresses the City did not identify. Sometimes the police assigns noise calls at bar and intersection to residences. Some noise calls are assigned to other events. Some noise calls are categorized as ordinance violations. Some are listed under a traffic citation. As these become known, the data will be updated. For the data reports, downtown is defined as downtown and Central Avenue corridor up to 30th. City has the resources to use their GEO data to refine the results.   
In addition, the City needs an education and outreach program on the noise ordinance and the medical impact on adult's and kids' health. To date the City has not authorized either of these.

 The opinions here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bay Post Internet or the Blog Publishers where it appears.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

All for Transportation Ballot Language vs Article 11 Charter Amendment - Deceptive or Legal?

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

All for Transportation (AFT) hit voters mail boxes hard last year with glossy mailers claiming they had a transportation "plan" aka $16 Billion transit tax hike to "cut" traffic congestion in Hillsborough County for 30 years.

But we posted here, when AFT spokesperson Kevin Thurman, one of the authors of their $16 Billion transit tax hike, was challenged on that claim about a week before the election, he was forced to admit that such claims were not true and congestion would actually get worse over the 30 years.

No wonder AFT refused to debate anyone who opposed their tax hike before the election. Their deceptive use of exaggerated claims would be exposed.

While deceptive political campaigns may not be illegal, what about deceptive ballot language?

The ballot summary language All for Transportation (AFT) used in their 30 year $16 Billion tax hike stated their massive tax hike would fund road improvements. In fact, AFT included improving roads and bridges first in their list of projects to be funded  - as if to tell voters that funding road improvements was the highest priority use for the billions in new tax revenues. 

Voters reading the ballot summary language can reasonably and logically construe the 30 year $16 Billion tax hike funds new road capacity.

The definition of road improvements includes "construction of new roads or improvement or expansion of existing roads…" It is common knowledge, and common sense dictates, that transportation projects to "improve roads" includes transportation projects to add new road capacity.

Except for AFT.

In the fine print of the 5 page AFT charter amendment the AFT transit advocates who wrote the transit tax hike charter amendment redefined the definition of "improve roads". AFT redefined "improve roads" to be improvements to intersections of existing roads.

But the ballot language also includes funding to "improve intersections" as a totally separate and different group of projects to be funded by the AFT tax hike than "improve roads".

If that is not confusing enough…In the fine print, not only did AFT intentionally not fund transportation projects to widen roads and add new road capacity, they specifically prohibited the use of AFT tax proceeds to fund new road capacity in Hillsborough County for 30 years - when the county's population is expected to grow by 700-800K.

AFT's ballot summary language may have serious logical conflicts with what AFT specified and prohibited in the fine print of their 5 page tax hike charter amendment.

AFT did everything by design. It appears they intentionally used deceptive and misleading ballot language so voters would logically conclude the $16 Billion tax hike funds much needed new road capacity in Hillsborough County over the 30 years of the tax.

The ballot language is the only piece of text every voter is guaranteed to see and it is the last bit of information voters encounter before casting their ballots.

Therefore, is the use of misleading ballot language legal?

Well...The Florida Supreme Court threw state Amendment 8 off the ballot last year stating the language was misleading. The Tampa Bay Times, who wrote editorials in support of the AFT tax hike and was all in for the AFT tax, weighed in on Amendment 8 with an editorial stating (emphasis mine)
Voters should know what they’re voting on, which is why the Florida Supreme Court was entirely correct to strike the deviously worded Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot.
So…if voters relied on the ballot summary language but that language was misleading, conflicts with the 5 pages of AFT's fine print or as the Times states is "deviously worded" - is that legal?

Hillsborough County commissioners and county staff admitted at the February 21 BOCC workshop that it is AFT's fine print mandating how the tax proceeds must be spent that is creating chaos and confusion. If the agencies receiving the tax proceeds are confused, it is reasonable and logical to assume voters were too.

AFT's $16 Billion tax hike with no funding for new road capacity and specific prohibitions for funding new roads for 30 years is causing big problems at County Center.

As posted here, AFT's big mess is putting the county between a rock and a hard place. Some county commissioners, including those who supported the AFT tax hike, now want to raise the gas tax and take more money from you.

All the commissioners were warned about the serious flaws with AFT's transit tax hike before the election. They refused to inform their constituents and remained silent about the issues except for Commissioner White.

The mask is falling off of AFT's tax hike masquerade…even by AFT.

Recently AFT spokesperson and chief architect of the transit tax hike Kevin Thurman posted this comment on a Times article about the tax.

Thurman is not a transportation expert or a traffic engineer. Thurman is a transit advocate who works on rail/transit advocacy campaigns.

The comment from AFT's tax hike chief architect confirms that AFT's $16 Billion tax hike was never intended to fund road widening or new road capacity in growing Hillsborough County for 30 years.

But AFT used ballot language (see above) for voters to reasonably conclude the 30 year AFT $16 Billion tax hike funded road widening and new roads.

Therefore, if AFT used ballot language that was misleading and the ballot language did not sufficiently inform voters of what was actually in AFT's 5 pages of fine print, is that legal?

This looks like another serious legal question regarding the AFT tax hike that must be resolved.

And as the Times editorialized "deviously" worded ballot language that prevents voters from sufficiently being informed about what they are voting for should be struck.

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.

Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay