Proposed noise ordinance could quiet downtown St. Pete when the party's just starting

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click to enlarge A crowd in the front row of Jannus Live, a popular outdoor venue downtown. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
A crowd in the front row of Jannus Live, a popular outdoor venue downtown.

We built this city!

We built this city!

We built this city on...policies at the municipal level that encourage robust arts and nightlife, which includes bands that play rock and rolllllll!

But a proposed ordinance in St. Petersburg aims to curtail how late said bands can play at numerous venues, which kind of defeats the purpose of nightlife, since nightlife typically refers to events and activities that begin after dinner and end before brunch, and always involves music in some capacity.

Staff at bars that are either outdoors or places where music spills out on the street would have to stop the music at 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends, writes Tampa Bay Times reporter Charlie Frago. Those who do not do so could be fined $500.

The proposed ordinance stems from numerous complaints about various bars in or near downtown, like Push and the Amsterdam.

"We're just asking for what I would consider is simple, honest decency," City Councilman Karl Nurse said Thursday at the Public Services and Infrastructure Committee meeting, according to the Times.

There has been widespread outrage on social media sites like Reddit and Facebook.

"Call me crazy, but if you don't like noise you probably shouldn't live downtown," writes one Redditor.

Not everyone on City Council is expected to give the proposed noise ordinance a rubber stamp.

"I do not support this ordinance as written and will vote no unless there are some reasonable changes made to the ordinance," said Councilman Steve Kornell in a Facebook post.

He encouraged opponents of the proposal to attend an agenda review meeting this coming Thursday, April 30, where the council will weigh various items it's set to discuss, but has no bearing on whether it will pass. Kornell said it's a chance to see how the council is leaning on the measure.

The ordinance will get taken up for a first reading Thursday, May 7. That meeting is already going to be packed, since the City Council will also be voting on whether to build Pier Park, which would demolish part of the inverted pyramid, as well as on the downtown waterfront master plan, a sweeping upgrade of a key city asset.

So far, more than 3,000 people have signed an online petition calling on St. Pete's city Council to shut the proposal down.

With the noise issue on the agenda, it's a good thing City Hall has an overflow room.

If the ordinance passes, it will have a second reading weeks later, so fans of downtown St. Pete's vibrant nightlife would have another shot at getting this thing shot down.

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