St. Pete again looks to dampen excess noise in downtown

Changes would include mitigation and tougher penalties.

St. Petersburg is taking another look at ways to dampen excess noise downtown.

The city is set to consider a series of revisions to its downtown noise ordinance to provide greater protections for residents who live near bars and restaurants. In addition, City Council members will attempt to clarify some of those rules for businesses that must abide by the regulations.

On Thursday, the St. Pete City Council Public Services and Infrastructure committee scheduled the ordinance revisions for a Development Review Commission (DRC) workshop February 6, as well as a DRC public hearing March 6 and a first reading April 4. The committee set final approval and adoption for April 18.

One of the most substantive changes would require new businesses who operate late night hours to provide a noise mitigation strategy before opening.

Despite numerous changes over the past several years, residents in downtown still complain to the city about excess noise floods into homes.

The revisions will likewise address concerns that existing penalties for noise ordinance violators were not significant enough to deter businesses from breaking the rules.

In some instances, those penalties were seen as simply the cost of doing business.

Under the current ordinance, businesses violating the noise ordinance receive a fine of $350 on a first offense, jumping to $500 for a second and any subsequent offenses within a year of the first violation.

The updated ordinance increases the first violation (after a warning) to $500 and provides for the suspension of the business’s extended hours permit for 30-days after third and subsequent violations.

Extended hour permits are required for businesses serving alcohol after midnight. In addition, the proposed changes clarify that though businesses would be subject to suspension, the violations will not be grounds for revoking extended hours permits entirely.

The changes would also provide for injunctive relief from chronic offenders.

In the new ordinance, noise emanating from motor boats along St. Pete’s downtown waterfront would be subject to the same rules as businesses on land. Current rules only include the noise emanating from the engines on boats, not from amplified noise.

The new rules would further prohibit businesses from propping open doors to eliminate excess noise pollution from amplified noise inside.

Previous noise ordinance changes required businesses who had amplified noise outside on patios or sidewalks to point speakers downward to reduce noise impacts on neighbors. The new revisions clarify that rule to require that tilt to be at a 45-degree downward angle.

St. Pete City Council member Charlie Gerdes additionally offered some advice to businesses doing a good job following the rules.

“They have not been able to corral their own brethren,” Gerdes said. “There’s a very small minority of business owners [breaking the rules]. [They should] motivate the business owners to police themselves and get their colleagues to do what most of them are already doing.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Robert Neff

    January 25, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    The noise is Citywide. Yet, the City and reporters constantly repeat the City mantra that this is downtown. There are more calls against apartments, condos and homes than bars. City has failed to dissect the data and publish it. I have analyzed that data with the limitations of access through public records and have published the data. City has access to the entire data stream, but has fails to provide residents and City Council with transparency and accountability

  • Robert Neff

    January 25, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    This email between Mayor Kriseman and Chief Holloway was obtained through Public Records Request.

    From: Chief Holloway
Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
    To: Richard Kriseman 
Cc: Alan DeLisle

    Subject: Re: Noise
    Will do, sir

    Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 11, 2017, at 11:32 AM, Richard Kriseman wrote:
    Chief, just to follow up on our conversation this morning, while there is a revised noise ordinance in the works, I need your officers to begin enforcing the existing ordinance now. Specifically, if they were to engage in an intense operation over the period of a few weeks, and announce that this operation would be forthcoming, it could have a deterrent effect going forward and would go a long way to making the public feel like the City was engaged in this issue.

    Some of the locations where we are receiving the greatest number of complaints are Tryst, Caddy’s, the Landings at Janis, and the Flamingo on 34th Street.

    If you can get your officers to buy into the fact that their actions in enforcing this ordinance (just like the vehicles parking in the street or on lawns) impacts quality of life and fits in with the broken window theory, they’ll do a better job with enforcement and not give you the same amount of pushback.


    Rick Kriseman, Mayor
    City of St. Petersburg
    P.O. Box 2842
    St. Petersburg, FL 33731
    (o) (727) 893-7201, (fax) (727) 892-5365
    [email protected]

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