Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rattled bay area residents hope noise bill brings quiet

TAMPA — It's a complaint Tampa police Officer Sean Mahabir hears as he patrols Ybor City.

"Hey, Sean," the conversation typically starts, "these cars are just ridiculous. They're driving through the neighborhood, booming music. My windows are shaking, my floors are rattling. I'm trying to sleep. Can't you do something about it?"

For the past two years, his answer has been, "No."

After a judge ruled Florida's stereo law unconstitutional, there has been nothing law enforcement can do to stop loud stereos.

Police Chief Jane Castor says it's one of the top complaints she hears. The topic comes up at almost every neighborhood meeting she attends.

"It's a quality of life issue," Castor said. "Obviously everybody has a right to listen to whatever type of music that they want, but when the volume is infringing on everyone else. …"

Tampa officials are working to improve the city's laws on stationary noise, such as music coming from a neighbor's stereo. But until the Florida Legislature remedies the state's unconstitutional law regarding car stereos, there's not much that can be done about loud vehicles.

So Castor and police chiefs across the state are supporting a bill that is making its way through the House and Senate. It removes the section stating that it is okay to blast certain types of noise, such as that for political purposes.

That section was the only part the Florida Supreme Court had a problem with, when it weighed in last December. The bill would simply change the problem part so the old law could be used again.

St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said noise from car stereos is a chronic issue officers have to deal with. He recently traveled to Tallahassee as a member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association and said that he believes if the bill makes it to the floors of the Legislature, it will pass.

"This isn't really new law," he said. "It's just fixing the old one."

The old one was knocked down by St. Petersburg attorney Richard Catalano, who received a citation in 2007 for blaring a Justin Timberlake song in his car. He battled the case through the Florida court system, reaching a conclusion with the Florida Supreme Court's December decision, which declared the law unconstitutional because it made exceptions for political speech.

So far, the bill has been sailing through committees unopposed. On Monday, it was met favorably in the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee.

Only two of the six present voted against it. Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said she likes her music loud and doesn't think she should be ticketed.

Sen. Christopher Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said he is concerned that law enforcement could use it simply to pull someone over and look for other things.

"Traffic stops — that's where, for a lot my constituents, trouble begins," he said.

Gladys Jackson, 65, of Belmont Heights in Tampa, hopes the bill passes.

She says she is woken up most weekend nights by loud car stereos outside her apartment, north of Ybor City. About two months ago, the noise shook her walls so hard, a portrait of Jackson with her late husband fell from the wall above her as she slept.

She says she doesn't understand how those inside the cars can even enjoy their music at that volume.

"I don't want to hear it," she said. "My windows are rattling like we're having an earthquake."

She attended a Tampa City Council meeting last month to ask council members to do whatever they can to crack down on loud music. She told the council she understands that people have the right to enjoy music.

"But what about our rights?" she asked. "We have the right to lay down in bed, go to sleep and not be blown out of bed by the noise at 2 or 3 in the morning."

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Rattled bay area residents hope noise bill brings quiet 04/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Is Bucs kicker Nick Folk a significant upgrade over Roberto Aguayo?

    Bucs

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter made it clear.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk is entering his 11th NFL season. He spent three seasons with the Cowboys and seven with the Jets. [LOREN ELLIOTT  |  Times]
  2. Florida education news: Student discipline, online learning, solar eclipse glasses and more

    Blogs

    STUDENT DISCIPLINE: Everyone wants their child to behave in school. But sometimes defining what that means causes dissention. That was the case this week at a Pasco County elementary school, which A Pasco County elementary school has adopted a new behavior model that encourages cooperation and responsibility. Some parents are upset that it also seems to support giving in to peer pressure.

  3. Pinellas wants to see impact of tourism bucks spent on big events

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– Pinellas County relies on more than just beaches to attract visitors. County government also spends millions to help sponsor big-name events to draw even more tourists.

    The Pinellas County Tourist Development Council awareded up to $250,000 to help sponsor the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Zephyrhills begins residential lien forgiveness program

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A new program is under way to forgive liens on certain residential properties in the city to combat blight, encourage improvements to properties and spur home ownership.

    City Manager Steve Spina said after the council’s unanimous vote, the new lien forgiveness program is up and running.
  5. With reluctance, New Port Richey continues funding for Main Street program

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — City officials on Tuesday night had their annual debate on whether to continue funding the New Port Richey Main Street program. The group remains financially strapped and claims it cannot survive without city funding.

    Said New Port Richey Mayor Rob Marlowe: “I think the Main Street program has gone seriously off the rails.”