Tallahassee City Commission votes to expand noise ordinance
Annoyed adult woman suffering neighbour noise in the livingroom at night at home

The change comes after a rise in late-night pop up parties since the start of the pandemic has spiked complaints.

The Tallahassee City Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to move forward with an amendment to the city’s noise ordinance to give law enforcement more tools to break up pop-up parties.

The change would allow law enforcement to act on their own accord to issue citations in the city’s urban area for creating noises  “clearly audible” from 100 feet or more away after 2 a.m. The current ordinance limits law enforcement intervention until after receiving nearby resident complaints, then identifying where the sound is coming from and picking up a decibel level exceeding the limit with a device.

The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) backed the change. TPD Deputy Chief Maurice Holmes told the Commission during the meeting the current ordinance is unenforceable, which has allowed a spike of pop-up parties to occur since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holmes said the ordinance change would fix that problem.

“With the change, we would be able to go in and address those issues proactively,” he said.

The change received mostly positive support during public comment.

Stanley Sims, a city hall regular, said he believed the change is “commonsense policing.”

“It is evident that the residents who invest in the community have an issue,” he said. “When you explain things in plain language, it’s hard to argue with that.”

Commissioner Jack Porter, the only dissenting vote, said she understands the pop-up parties have been a local problem, but is not a fan of the solution in the ordinance.

“I really wish we could have handled this in a different way,” Porter said. “I feel like we could have reached some compromise and a better way for the public to get involved on this issue.”

Commissioner Curtis Richardson said he has heard a lot of complaints about noise issues, and trusts police and city staff’s recommendations on how to deal with the problem.

“Everywhere I go I hear about it,” Richardson said. “What I do want to do is trust the professionals who have been working this issue not on a part-time basis, but every night of the week.”

The ordinance change is not yet in effect. A public hearing on the change will take place during the commission’s March 9 meeting.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


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