TREASURE ISLAND — Police here will no longer respond to noise complaints from Sunset Beach residents upset over loud late-night music drifting across Blind Pass from St. Pete Beach bars.
Treasure Island city attorney Maura Kiefer said the Sheriff's Office will not respond, either.
Instead, residents must complain to St. Pete Beach police, who most likely will not come to their homes to investigate.
It's a jurisdictional issue, according to Pinellas County Court Judge Lorraine Kelly, who in reviewing several outstanding citations said that Treasure Island can't cite businesses outside its city limits for noise violations.
"That's that for us," says Treasure Island police Chief Tim Casey. "We will have to advise all residents that they will have contact St. Pete Beach police if they have a noise complaint."
St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield said any future complaints received from Treasure Island residents will be investigated at the noise source and citations will be issued to the bars if they are found in violation.
The Sunset Beach residents' complaints are also complicated by conflicting noise codes. Treasure Island's noise ordinance prohibits "unreasonably loud and raucous noise" that can be heard in "any occupied residential unit."
In contrast, St. Pete Beach's noise ordinance sets specific decibel levels that constitute a violation only if exceeded at the bar's property line.
The main sources of the noise, according to Treasure Island police records, are the Sloppy Pelican, the Ocean Breeze (formerly Mulligans) and Philthy Phil's (now called the Twisted Tarpon), all in St. Pete Beach along the water at Blind Pass, which divides the two cities.
During the past year, Treasure Island police received 36 complaints, mostly from Land's End residents, as well as from residents at Mansions by the Sea and nearby single-family homes.
In some cases, the police department found no violation. In others they gave verbal warnings to the bars, and they issued 11 Treasure Island ordinance violations.
Don Anderson, the attorney for the Sloppy Pelican and the Twisted Tarpon, said he and his clients met this year with residents at Land's End to resolve the dispute.
The bars play acoustically boosted music, Anderson said, but do not have any outside speakers operating at late-night hours.
"We have made efforts to address their concerns, and since that meeting, we have noticed a reduction in amount of complaints," Anderson said.
Cal Brummett Jr., manager of Land's End, declined to comment.
Land's End has 177 units and the Mansions has about 140 units. Many of the condominium owners are seasonal residents who are just beginning to return. Last year, complaints appeared to peak in November.
Anderson said his clients did pay a $113 fine on one citation, a number of others were withdrawn, but challenged the rest in court.
"They have done everything they can to reduce the noise and want to be good neighbors. We would like the people from Treasure Island to come over and enjoy themselves," Anderson said.
He also stressed the bars have operated in St. Pete Beach for decades, long before the condominiums were built in Treasure Island.
However, Kiefer, the Treasure Island attorney, said previous complaints to St. Pete Beach have not produced any significant reduction in music levels.
"My understanding is that St. Pete Beach does not feel there is a problem," Kiefer told the Treasure Island commission this month. "They say the Sloppy Pelican is complying with their noise ordinance and is not bothering anybody in St. Pete Beach."
What Sunset Beach residents can do, Kiefer suggested, is file a civil suit claiming nuisance. "That is where their best remedy lies," she says.