They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and perhaps they’re right. After attending my second City Commission meeting and requesting a modification to Sarasota’s current noise regulations, City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo has agreed to schedule a special meeting on the matter.
Caragiulo is aware of the issues with current provisions regarding noise and plans to work with city residents to consider amendments, specifically in the downtown core.
For those who frequently visit downtown Sarasota, there has been a noticeable change in the summer months. Amplified music has been heard filtering into the streets from such popular nightspots as eat here and Floribbean Restaurant and Lounge. It’s been a pleasant change for a city often known to slow down when the temperature rises. However, with winter approaching, there is still cause for alarm.
You see, winter brings snowbirds, including many downtown condo residents, historically resulting in a surge of noise complaints. Due to restrictions regarding amplified music (or a continuous source of sound), police are forced to ask businesses to turn music down or off, resulting in the loss of entertainment and profit.
For those familiar with Sarasota noise regulations, the problem appears to stem in Sec. 20-5, which addresses maximum sound levels. When it pertains to noise issues, Sarasota relies on a decibel or sound meter system to determine whether a complaint is legitimate. In subsection (b)(2) the ordinance states:
- Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., no person shall make, cause, or allow or permit the operation of any continuous source of sound in such a manner as to create, when measured at or beyond the real property line from which the sound emanates, a sound level that exceeds seventy-five (75) dBA, eighty (80) dBC or has a ten (10) dB or greater difference between the dBA and dBC sound levels.
- Between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., the following morning, no person shall make, cause, or allow or permit the operation of any continuous source of sound in such a manner as to create, when measured at or beyond the real property line from which the sound emanates, a sound level that exceeds seventy-five (75) dBA, seventy-five (75) dBC or has a ten (10) dB or greater difference between the dBA and dBC sound levels.
For those unfamiliar with decibel levels, a 75 dBA can be compared to the sound of a ringing telephone, a hairdryer, an electric shaver or a flushing toilet. Therefore, with current legislation, one can call in a noise complaint about a neighbor using the restroom too much.
However, this can rectified in several ways:
1) Alter the dBA and dBC guidelines, making them more conducive for downtown core businesses on weekends and holidays.
2) Measure the sound level from the property line of the complaint, rather than the property line from which the sound emanates.
3) In the downtown core, extend weekend and holiday hours (perhaps until midnight) permitting amplified music or another continuous sound source.
4) Consider utilizing St. Petersburg’s method of relying on feet rather than a decibel system. (For example, the sound cannot be great enough for it to be audible for a person standing 1,000 ft. away.)
These are some suggestions that I plan to bring to the planning meeting scheduled in October. Hopefully, other citizens, including musicians and business owners, will bring ideas and questions as well. Together, we can alter Sarasota’s history, transforming the downtown core to a vibrant gathering space for those seeking music, dining, shopping and nightlife.
Noise Regulations Meeting
City Hall Annex Building/First Floor
October 17, 6 p.m.
1565 1st Street
Sarasota, FL 34236