ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Is downtown St. Pete too noisy or is the vibe just right? It’s something city leaders will once again consider this spring as they look at changes to the city’s noise ordinance.
Thursday, city members drafted new noise ordinance changes. Some of the changes that could be on tap: requiring new businesses that are open late at night to give the city a noise mitigation strategy before they open.
Fines and penalties for breaking the noise ordinance could also go up, because city leaders say some downtown bars and restaurants breaking the law considered it a cost of doing business.
The current fine is $350 and $500 for the second offense. The new fine jumps up to $500 for a 1st offense (after one warning) and a business can have their extended hours permit suspended for 30 days after their 3rd violation. (Any businesses that sell alcohol after midnight in St Pete has an extended hours permit.)
Businesses will also have to keep doors shut if they are playing loud music inside and if a bar is playing music outside on a patio area, they will have to angle the speakers 45 degrees down.
City council will talk about the new proposed changes on February 6. Then, there will be a public hearing March 6. A final vote is expected on April 18.
In 2018, dozens of bars, restaurants and patrons started a petition to “keep St Pete’s vibe alive.” Restaurant and bar owners tell ABC Action News St. Pete has become a vibrant city and they fear restrictive ordinances will hurt their bottom line.
“People will end up going elsewhere and that would kill us,” Chuck Prather of the Birchwood and Canopy explained. “St Pete’s vibe is fantastic and we don’t want to change it.”
St. Pete leaders say over the course of five years, they received more than 16,000 complaints about noise in the downtown area.