But the December decision by the Florida Supreme Court to strike down the state’s noise ordinance, because it conflicted with First Amendment rights, has spurred Tallahassee officials: They are now crafting the city’s first comprehensive noise ordinance.
Assistant City Attorney Hetal Desai presented the preliminary outlines of a noise ordinance Wednesday night during a meeting about the Cascades Park amphitheater. Desai said the ordinance would establish maximum sound levels for residential, non-residential and special district locations.
She said the ordinance will address house party noises, construction noises, TV/radio noises from homes, loudspeakers at commercial and residential locations, home/car alarms and heating/AC equipment noises (animal noises are already covered under animal nuisance laws).
She said it would not cover crowd noises, church bells, street sweepers, trains, buses, airports — or moving vehicles (in accordance with the struck-down state ordinance).
She said the proposed maximum sound allowed in the city would be 85 decibels — the equivalent of a busy urban street corner — which would likely be allowed only in special districts.
Desai showed a preliminary list of a dozen special districts, which would include Cascades Park, Midtown, Gaines Street and downtown.
She said police would carry meters to measure noise when investigating complaints. Violators would earn civil fines (and property liens if they fail to pay).
Desai said the city attorney’s office hopes to present its recommendations by February, seek public comment, bring a final draft to the City Commission this summer and implement the ordinance by January 2014.
But she also noted it took two years and 23 drafts for St. Augustine to simply amend its noise ordinance in 2011.