Tampa City Council grilled on noise
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06/04/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The Tampa City Council this morning heard complaints about loud music coming from cars.

Several residents came before the Board this morning to express their problems with noise in neighborhoods

City Attorney Chip Fletcher said currently the City is abiding by a state-wide law on noise violations.

Tampa Police Major Mark Hamlin then came before the Council to discuss what is known as the Soft Letter approach, currently used in St. Petersburg by the Police Department there.

He said that process begins when citizen offended by loud noise submits an e-mail to the Police Department.

Hamlin said that an official with the St. Petersburg Police Department says they are receiving about 20 such complaints a week. He said a couple of $101 dollar fines might be more persuasive than simply a warning.

The City Council decided not to take any direct action. They instead asked that their attorney write a letter to Police Chief Stephen Hogue, informing him that the Council sees noise becoming a growing problem in the city. They also asked for the Police Department to try to step enforcement of the current state law.

In March, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Sarasota County residents, challenging Sarasota’s unconstitutional noise ordinance. The ordinance allows for police to seize and impound vehicles when drivers are charged with playing their music too loud.

Sarasota’s Noise Ordinance, passed in May of 2008, goes beyond current state law; it allows police to seize the car of a person who is found to be violating the statute. Critics said that the Sarasota City Council, enacted the ordinance despite being aware of the potential exposure to lawsuits.

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