Tampa City Council To Hear New Noise Ordinance Rules For Ybor, Business Owners Say Will Hurt District | Tampa Bay News | Tampa

This Thursday, January 13, Tampa City Council will hear the second reading of

looking to calm those parts of Tampa known for the activity of nightlife. Business owners in the town of Ybor say the amended ordinance is overkill in its goal of restricting sound.

Two of the amendments stand out the most.

First, any form of outdoor amplified sound would be banned completely after midnight in the City of Ybor and the Arena District in downtown Tampa, where nighttime outdoor activities are essential for business. Second, no warning would be given to businesses and individuals who violate the ordinance until they are cited and fined.

This version of the Tampa noise ordinance was presented to Tampa City Council last October by Tampa City Attorney Susan Johnson-Velez, who told council it would help the Tampa Police Department (TPD) to control noise in the area, as no warning before quoting would be necessary. , which differs from the rules of origin which included a five-minute warning.

A current city ordinance says any person or business in the Ybor and Arena neighborhoods can receive citations when their outdoor noise levels exceed 85-87 decibels between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.

The new amendments discussed on Thursday make changes to decibel levels and time limits; from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., the measurement drops to 75 decibels, and from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m., 65-75 decibels would be the legal noise level.

For context, IAC Acoustics, a sound control company, says the sound from a mixer is around 88 decibels. Decibel Pro says that 85 decibels is roughly equal to the sound of a noisy restaurant or hotel lobby. This means that at any time of the day even high voices could potentially be louder than the ordinance would allow.

While decibel levels are only changed slightly in the changes, removing a warning and banning all amplified sound after midnight leaves businesses in dire straits, according to owners.

Tom DeGeorge is the spokesperson for the Ybor Merchants Association and owns the Crowbar Concert Hall, which he opened in 2006. He also resides in Ybor, where he bought his home in 2011. DeGeorge hosts an array of music. throughout the year, where people can also congregate outdoors during performances. On weekends, the venue hosts the Ol ‘Dirty Sundays, where DJs play in the Crowbar’s courtyard and people dance. Under the proposed ordinance, the event could not occur outdoors.

Like many businesses during the pandemic, Crowbar once struggled to stay afloat, and now he’s forced to feel the pressure of what could happen if the city passes the ordinance.

“How can they just apply that to Ybor and not expect it to have a negative effect here?” DeGeorge told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, “When the pandemic started, the city encouraged businesses to be outside, now they are asking for the exact opposite. “

DeGeorge says that while he understands noise control which is out of hand, he believes there are powerful forces at play that want Ybor’s culture to change completely, to make the place more convenient for developers who want Ybor to look like other quieter parts of Tampa. .

In a Facebook post, members of the VM Ybor Neighborhood Association said city attorneys in Mayor Jane Castor’s administration are still advancing the order until Thursday’s meeting.

Carole Post, outgoing director of development and economic opportunities for Tampa, told CL that cOver two years ago, council members asked the administration to review the city’s updated noise ordinance due to the growing number of noise complaints.

“We want to balance the interests of businesses and residents, bring predictability and remove confusion about noise abatement,” Post wrote in an email.

The city continued that the aim of the ordinance is to “provide businesses and citizens with a more uniform, predictable and understandable set of regulations, where there is currently a confusing tangle or lack of requirements.”

But DeGeorge had a different opinion.

“They’re trying to cut off the legs of the people who’ve been here for a long time, who are really invested in what Ybor is and what he’s been for decades,” DeGeorge said. He understands that some businesses and people are too loud in Ybor, but wonders why everyone should be restricted because of other people’s behavior.

Councilor John Dingfelder, who represents District 3, which encompasses the entire city of Tampa, told CL that low decibel thresholds that could be cited immediately without warning apply to him.

“This is something that I’m going to have to ask questions about at the city council meeting,” Dingfelder said. “It’s been a problem in Tampa for a while now, and it’s not easy to please everyone.”

Dingfelder said he remembers the noise ordinance issue in Ybor dating back to 2003, and that it was dealt with for about a year before the city abandoned the issue. He says city council often hears complaints about loud music and cars from residents, and the council is trying to resolve this issue while making the situation fair for everyone.

A married couple from the VM Ybor Neighborhood Association supported the new noise rules on the group’s Facebook page. Stephanie Harrison Bailey wrote that City of Tampa prosecutors asked people to come to Thursday’s meeting to speak out in favor of changing the order and shared the attorney’s direct numbers in the message so fans can get in touch.

“City lawyers expect a strong commercial presence next week to oppose the passage of this amendment,” Bailey wrote. “They need to hear from the residents!”

Stephanie Bailey / Facebook

Message from Bailey regarding the prescription.

The post received a mostly negative response, aside from David Bailey, Stephanie’s husband, and another commentator. Several commentators said the Baileys had moved to Ybor, known for its nightlife, and now wanted to change it. Time and time again, commentators have said that if people don’t like Ybor’s culture, they should move.

David Bailey, who has lived in Ybor on and off since 2001, told CL that while he and his wife consistently support local places and businesses, as Ybor grows all voices need to be heard on the matter.

“If Ybor is to be the shining gem that he was, there will have to be more people living here, with more residences and we have to be somewhat reasonable about their tolerance for noise,” Bailey said. .

He continued that he did not necessarily agree with everything about the way the ordinance is currently drafted and that any amendment could possibly be adjusted to the will of the community.

Bailey is a real estate agent and the neighborhood association’s vice president, but said his comments for this story were his own and did not represent the group.

Brian Schaefer owns The Bricks in Ybor, another business that has an outdoor courtyard, which occasionally hosts concerts. Most recently, he’s had two sold-out acoustic shows from punk-rock icon Laura Jane Grace. He has been going to Ybor since he was a teenager and has lived near 7th Avenue, Ybor’s main street for 14 years. Like most of the people CL spoke to for this story, he believed that there shouldn’t be any crashing ear noises in Ybor, but that the sound levels targeted by the ordinance and prohibiting amplified sounds after midnight , are too high.

He said the ordinance seems unmanageable, that the city has tried it before and it hasn’t worked, and focusing on the businesses and people who are really pushing it with the force of their sound would be the way to go. to follow. He added that there are “bigger fish to whip” for the city, like helping to make Ybor more passable on foot.

“Local residents who are in favor of this ordinance should remember that they moved to Ybor, which is known as a party district, not a library district,” he said. “The businesses that have been around for a long time really depend on how Ybor exists now.”

Chip Williams lived and worked in Ybor for 18 years, and he lived one block from Seventh Avenue for more than six of those years. He had first hand experience of music pouring into his window from a club that left their music late. He sees both sides of the issue, but doesn’t see the district-wide silence as a fair result.

“I have filed noise complaints,” Williams said. “So I get the frustration of a 100% resident. But I don’t think the solution is to change the ordinance and take away the property rights of landowners and business owners.”

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