Is Duval Street too loud? – Musicians and residents look for middle ground on noise ordinance

Is Duval Street too loud? – Musicians and residents look for middle ground on noise ordinance

Old City Hall was crowded with local musicians and annoyed residents last Tuesday to discuss the issue of the noise ordinance or lack there of. Commissioner Jimmy Weekley brought the bill forward after hearing numerous complaints from residents in his district.

“I knew there was an issue and I knew it need to be addressed. We are not trying to unplug music in the city. There has to be compromises made and that is what the legislation is about,” said Weekley.

New amendments brought forward by Jim Young, Key West code compliance manager, included specific sound decibel ratings that would warrant a code violation. The highly focused amendment proposes that if speakers are 85 dBA (decibels on A scale) or 77 dBC (decibels on C scale) from the hours of 4 p.m. to 2:59 a.m., the venue would be in violation. The proposal stipulates a fine after one warning.

“This ordinance is not meant to put anybody out of business, musicians, bar owners or residents. We are responding to complaints from residents of the city,” said Young.

Musician Jesse Wagner used his three minutes at the podium to sing a completely acoustic rendition of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie with a three-person band and recorded the decibel level.

“That was 96.7 decibels,” said Wagner. “These regulations are too strict.”

Resident Victoria Leigh has been in town for 33 years and supports the ordinance and amendments.

“I bought my house here before the noise got bad. When I first went to Fat Tuesday’s to discuss the noise I was told to move. I deserve to sleep at night without closing windows and doors and using earplugs. I don’t think any resident deserves to live like that,” said Leigh.

Rooftop Café and Agave Tequila Bar owner Norman Vogel said he approves of the amendments from a business perspective.

“I feel noise has become excessive. I can’t see guests in our outside area anymore,” said Vogel.

The issue was divided in Old City Hall and in town. The city reported there were 19 letters in support and 17 letters in opposition of amending the ordinance. Ultimately the commission did not approve the amendments. There will be a meeting Tuesday, March 18 where the bill will be brought forth again with new decibel levels and amendments.

The issue was divided in Old City Hall and in town. The city reported there were 19 letters in support and 17 letters in opposition of amending the ordinance. Ultimately the commission did not approve the amendments. There will be a meeting March 18 where the bill will be brought forth again with new decibel levels and amendments.

 

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