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Belleair Beach favors noise law

Published Oct. 16, 2005

People who play loud music while driving through this residential beach community are not welcome. That's the message the City Council wants to get across to motorists driving city streets with music booming from their cars.

At Monday's workshop meeting, the council began discussing a measure to make it illegal for music able to be heard 50 feet from a car. The ordinance, if passed, would be similar to one in Clearwater and to a California law that took effect last month.

"I think this ordinance is going to be fine the way it is," presiding officer Kaye Woolcott said Tuesday. "I think it will be effective to a considerable degree."

Woolcott discussed the ordinance on a local radio talk show Tuesday morning. It would be one of only a few of its kind in Pinellas County. Belleair Bluffs is considering a similar ordinance.

"There's a lot of interest in this," Woolcott said. "I think a lot of people have been bothered by them (loud cars). I don't think the youth has the right to disturb the people around them."

Council member Ronald Zimmerman, who took office this month, was not as enthusiastic about the proposed ordinance Monday evening. He suggested that instead of relying on police discretion, the city consider putting into the ordinance a requirement the sound be measured.

"The way it's written lends itself to selective enforcement," Zimmerman said. He suggested that a police officer could stop a group of hearing-impaired people for singing too loudly.

"Even the possibility of a discrimination lawsuit would be dangerous," he said. "Dangerous to us financially and dangerous to our image."

No other city official agreed. They rejected measuring sound with a decibel meter, saying police would have to be trained to use it and that it would be difficult to measure sound from a moving vehicle.

"I think we do need an ordinance and I think this is the best way to do it," council member James Allen Waldrop said.

The council is to discuss the proposed ordinance March 5 and take its first vote. A public hearing and final vote is to be held April 2.