Ybor City´s New Noise Ordinance
Last fall, it seemed like Steve Bird was the only owner of an Ybor City live-music venue paying close attention to the folks pushing to saddle the entertainment district with a volume limit. The dance clubs sporting outdoor speakers down on Seventh Avenue were named as the primary inspiration. But Bird, whose New World Brewery sits a couple blocks off the strip on Eighth Avenue (and features full bands playing outdoors several nights a week), rightly saw potentially disastrous fallout for the Ybor rooms that offer local and national musicians an outlet for their passions. Naturally, Tampa being a growing city on Florida´s Gulf Coast, tourist and residential-development interests won out, and the ordinance went into full effect at the beginning of July. From 6 p.m. until 3 a.m., the noise at any establishment´s property line cannot exceed 85 decibels (a little louder than the average vacuum cleaner, which can go 80); from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m., the limit is 65 decibels. Thankfully, the negative consequences for original-music venues in the area have, at the time of this writing, been minimal. New World books more acoustic acts than it used to, and asks full bands to be mindful of their stage volume. The Orpheum, also on Eighth Avenue but a block closer to Seventh´s main drag, installed a new layer of soundproofing. Neither club has been warned for going over the limit. The few original-music-friendly businesses at the heart of the strip have had slightly rougher going — jam-band-haven Gaspar´s Grotto has been officially warned — but nobody´s been slapped with a fine yet. That doesn´t mean, however, that the handful of places already handicapping their profits by offering an alternative to Ybor´s DJ-and-booze-special standard aren´t now operating under an additional load of pressure.