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City of Tallahassee amends noise ordinance following complaints

Posted at 10:05 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 22:37:36-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee commissioners voted to amend the noise ordinance at its Wednesday meeting, aiming to crack down on parking lot parties and crime.

The vote was 4-1; Commissioner Jack Porter was the only commissioner against the vote. She expressed a desire to spend more time listening to public comment and coming up with a better option.

Under the new ordinance, the police department is the complainant when responding to complaints of large crowds.

The police department previously argued that cracking down on the crowds was tough because the business or property owner would have to give them the clearance to break up the crowds.

This new ordinance now allows a police officer to respond to noise complaints. The police department doesn't need to use to use a decibel reader to determine compliance: instead if the noise is audible enough to catch the attention of law enforcement, officers can shut it down.

The main focus is on the urban core, or entertainment district, where the majority of the loud parking lot parties occur. Enforcement would take precedence between 2 and 7 A.M.

Many of the public comment involved people outside of the urban core worried this ordinance wouldn't do enough to crack down on noise spilling into their neighborhoods. Deputy Police Chief Maurice Holmes promised that while the ordinance singles out the urban core, it will be enforced throughout the city.

TPD created a Crowd Control Taskforce in 2020, aimed at cracking down on the issue.

Deputy Chief Holmes says this ordinance does more than cut back on the noise coming from late night gatherings.

"It's also a tool that we can use to address the violent crime at these locations. We know at these gatherings there's the use of alcohol, there's a lot of drug activity. Those are ingredients for disaster." he said.

An officer can issue a citation if TPD has responded to similar calls in the same place within six months. The price can range from $250 to $500 depending on the frequency.