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St. Petersburg leaders look at new noise rules for downtown

Businesses say new rules will kill St. Pete's vibe
St Pete leaders look at new noise rules downtown
Posted at 7:31 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2019-03-06 18:06:19-05

ST PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Putting the kibosh on loud noise! St. Petersburg leaders are looking at big changes to quiet downtown.

Any night of the week, downtown St. Pete is hopping!

“It’s a vibrant downtown, it’s an exciting downtown but it does come with noise," explained Chuck Prather, the owner of the Birchwood Inn and popular Canopy rooftop bar. 

The noise is becoming a sticking point between downtown residents and businesses. St. Pete leaders have received more than 16,417 noise complaints over the past 5 years, and they say with more condos being built and hundreds more people set to move downtown, they’re looking at three big changes.

They could soon be adding quiet hours after 11 p.m. and midnight on the weekends. The exception would be for the Jannus Live Block, which would have until 1 a.m. for quiet hours to kick in.

The city could also start measuring noise in decibels, instead of how far noise travels outside of a given establishment. Penalties could also change. A single violation could soon cost business owners $218. A second violation could cost them $436.

"It’s just not fair," Prather said as he explained that the rules are too restrictive and will kill downtown’s vibe. 

“I don’t know where people would go, but I think they’d stop coming to Downtown St. Pete, at a time when our city has never been better,” Prather added.

He says under the proposed rules even outdoor dining would be considered too loud.

Under the proposed rules, non-residential businesses could be as loud as 70dba/75dbc 8 a.m.-*11p.m (12 a.m. Friday, Saturday, before holiday) 65dba/70dbc *11p.m.-8 a.m. (12 a.m. Friday, Saturday, before holiday).

Businesses in residential areas could be as loud as 60dba/65dbc 11a.m.-11p.m. 55dba/60dbc 11p.m.-11a.m. 

In the Jannus Block, businesses could operate at 85dba/87dbc 8a.m.-*11 p.m.(1a.m. Friday, Saturday, before holiday) Jannus block 65dba/75dbc *11p.m.-8a.m.(1a.m. Friday, Saturday, before holiday)

Prather and dozens of downtown businesses are fighting to stop the changes before it’s too late. They started circulating a petition urging St. Pete to "keep the downtown vibe alive."

Yet, some downtown visitors think a stricter noise ordinance is a good idea.

“You can hear loud music from everywhere," Aida Abdurahman explained, “It can be annoying especially if you want to have a nice quiet dinner.”

She hopes St. Pete can find a way to turn the volume down a notch, without hurting the bottom line for downtown businesses.

St. Petersburg will host a final public input meeting about the new noise ordinance Tuesday, March 6 at 2 p.m. at St. Pete City Hall.