Proposed new noise law may bring $15,000 fines

Sarasota, Florida -- Sarasota is considering sweeping changes to its noise laws that could slam business owners with fines of up to $15,000 a day.

Several new condo towers have gone up in the Five Points area of Downtown within the past 10 years. A lot of the people who live there say they expected the city's quiet downtown to stay that way when they moved in. To them, a strip of bars on Main Street -- open late and sometimes loud -- don't belong.

And they're sort of right.

The city made exceptions to its planning laws when it allowed several bars to cluster together downtown.

The owners of the bars and nightclubs say passing a new noise ordinance will be a big challenge for them, after they've invested a lot to give the area some good nightlife.

Read:The proposed ordinance Part 1 (PDF)
Read:The proposed ordinance Part 2 (PDF)

The proposed law would ban any noise between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. that's "plainly audible" from 200 feet. Basically, if you can hear it, it's too loud and you're breaking the law.

How far is 200 feet? Picture a supermarket. Two hundred feet is typically about the distance from the front doors to the back wall.

The fines would range from $250 to as much as $15,000 a day in extreme cases.

Sarasota's City Commission will discuss this idea during its meeting at 2:30 p.m. Monday.


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