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Noise pollution ordinance in St. Petersburg wastes resident's tax dollars

Downtown St. Petersburg’s cityscape from the South Yacht Basin in 2015

View the 2016 City Noise Nuisance Calls on the Google map. Toggle the icon to expand, choose and show the various maps for all callers and the different number of repeat calls. (Expandable icon is left of 2016 in the Title bar)

Here are a series of articles that present the data and trend analysis.

Read the articles and view the Google map

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From 2009-2016, St. Petersburg, Florida had 27,638 calls for noise. The St. Petersburg Police issued zero noise citations to businesses and residences. Mayor Kriseman's first term start in 2014. Police Chief Holloway was hired later that year. They have had three years to assess the noise pollution ordinance and make adjustments. They have not and-has wasted waste of resident's tax dollars and caused negative police sentiment for those who have an issue with noise form businesses or residences.

Both Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway are aware of the City's noise issue but refuse to meet. Their non-response speaks volumes. They are ignoring the issue. However, the police are supposed to protect us in our home and are not. The Mayor has demonstrated how out of touch he is with the noise issue and has exercised no fiduciary control. In regard to the noise pollution ordinance, both have failed miserably.

The number of repeat businesses and residences with calls from residents is startling. In 2016, there were 2908 noise related calls, where 1350, or 46% were made when the call would be a clear violation from 11 PM/Midnight to 8 AM. A stunning 1558 calls, or 54%, were made from 8 AM to 11 PM/Midnight, midnight applies to Friday, Saturday and Holidays.

The City always stated that noise pollution was a downtown issue. However, both the City and the Police did not conduct a data and trend analysis nor did they listen to the audio of the calls to dispatch. Had they done so, the City would have known the noise issue is not downtown but with two clubs, one in the South St. Pete and the other in Southwest St. Pete. The results indicted there may be more calls for residences than business. So the city has the data and audio of dispatch calls but was NOT using it to assess the noise issue.

The City has the means to generate a heat map to determine where the call clusters and repeat calls are. Had they done so they would have known there were no citations, the number of calls after hours, and where the call clusters were located. A resident was able to generate this map in an hour. See the interactive Google Map in the left column.

A data and trend analysis was conducted. Audio of the calls to dispatch were reviewed. Information was obtained through public records request at significant cost to me. Results are published in articles by Bay Post Internet (Articles are under interactive map in left column). The findings are proof the noise ordinance had been revised several times without a clear understanding of the noise pollution issue.

While area cities are tightening the noise ordinance to protect residents and adding decibel meters t measure the alleged infractions, St. Petersburg has been revising the noise ordinance to protect businesses and using distance and time of day. Thus if you live across the street from a noisy bar or neighbor, you have no rights.

The city revised the noise ordinance in 2016 and is already looking to revise it again. Why so soon? Public outcry is the reason, but businesses pushed back in 2016 and there are a few Council Members and Mayor Kriseman who are pro-business.

At the 2nd Public meeting for the noise ordinance on March 29, 2017, the City was asked how many citations there had been. They did not know! The resident who had been conducting data and trend analysis on the noise issue, shared that there were no citations for businesses and residences. The crowd responded with dead silence then grumbled.

While the police officers have state the noise pollution ordinance is vague and the City and police legal fears a lawsuit, this is no excuse to know which businesses and residences have repeat calls. The police created a downtown task force to handle the bars issue. They should have done the same here.

In addition to the data and trend analysis, estimated taxpayer costs to send police to the residence was over $250,000 per year when the police will not issue a fine. The city has no data model nor do they track this cost. My estimate is based on a quickly built data model and was used to determine a preliminary cost. Two officers are required to respond to a noise call.

According to the police in a Chamber of Commerce blog post, "focus more on higher-priority issues such as violence, drunk driving and the use of illicit drugs." However, the clubs and bars can have 2-4 times as many calls to police for crime, such as, call for assistance, theft, burglary, brawl, battery, suicides, death, and baker acts. If police could address the repeat noise calls and crime at the businesses, then they could move resources to sex trafficking which is a serious issue in St. Petersburg.

The best solution is to have Police assign a task force to identify and stop the repeat noise by business and residences.

The city and the police do not understand the health effects of low frequency and audible noise. Nor do the police have the expertise on staff. The city and police have no expertise in the matter and a lack of understanding of how noise works and impacts your health.

Why has Police Chief Holloway let this spin out of control? One officer stated, "The City will not cite a business,." Another said the city does not want the business to close. The police work and investigation on the noise pollution has been sloppy police work.

As a result of the Mayor's indifference and the police's shoddy police work, businesses have sued three individuals for repeatedly calling the police. Two were dismissed, where one gentleman estimates he spent $6,000 defending himself. The third case was dismissed where the judge, who was retiring had an Anti-SLAPP Motion in front of him, but ruled on the first motion to dismiss, saying the Anti-SLAPP was moot. The plaintiff amended the complaint with two new counts, ignoring the Judge's instructions. The defendant responded and filed a new Anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the case. The hearing is scheduled Aug 29, 2017. The estimates fees and costs exceed $20,000.

"SLAPP" is a fairly new Florida Statute, 768.295 Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Plaintiffs have rarely filed an Anti-SLAPP. Judges are unfamiliar with the law. SLAPP was amended ion July 1, 2015 to protect free speech in connection with public issues and will the law will apply to SLAPP suits filed by anyone. Reference, Florida's broader anti-SLAPP law effective July 1, 2015 - Lexology

Thus, residents need to ask this question in the 2017 Mayor and Council race, Why are you wasting residents taxes to send police who will not cite the business and stop the noise from repeating?

 

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