As the city of Sarasota grapples with how to accommodate live music and residential interests downtown, Sarasota County has started down a similar path for Siesta Key.
Siesta Key Association Vice President Peter van Roekens emailed Sarasota county commissioners Jan. 23, to report Blasé Café in Siesta Key Village had consistently exceeded decibel level restrictions outlined in the county code.
However, Sarasota County code-enforcement officer Kevin Burns reported that there has only been one citation issued in the Village for violating sound regulations in the last year.
But, van Roekens measured C-scale decibels levels. Sarasota County code-enforcement officers and Sarasota sheriff’s deputies measure using the A-scale.
The C-scale picks up lower frequencies, like those that come from booming bass.
The A-scale picks up frequencies that most affect human hearing, Burns explained.
The county has restrictions for both scales, which makes enforcement complex. And some restaurants, such as Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar and the Hub Baja Grill, have special exceptions for live music past hours dictated in the county code.
Although code-enforcement officers decide whether to investigate a noise complaint, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office responds to every noise complaint, and the deputy decides at the site whether to take a sound level reading.
“If somebody calls up and says, ‘Hey, my neighbor’s stereo is blasting,’ we’re going to send someone out there,” said Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tom Stroud.
The Sheriff’s Office has held two separate training sessions for deputies for noise-level hardware, Stroud said.
The Siesta Key Association, the Siesta Key Village Association and the Sarasota Council of Neighborhood Organizations will be among the first stakeholders to pitch solutions for the code complexity to county staff, according to Sarasota County Neighborhood Services Manager Jane Grogg.
The county is currently contacting those neighborhood groups and others that are affected by special exceptions, Grogg explained, which also includes Gulf Gate neighborhood associations.
“The next step would be to compile all the information we have gathered as to the noise ordinance, then schedule a discussion with the commission,” said Sarasota County Assistant Zoning Administrator Donna Thompson.
The county will automatically repeal the noise ordinance Nov. 18 at its sunset date.
Commissioners voted last year to extend the ordinance an additional year to consider moving it out of the environmental section of the code.
“I wonder if we’re exaggerating a problem that may not even be a problem if you get all the facts,” Burns said.