By Vote, Commissioner Jim Gray Says Sound Causes Crime!

Stop The Madness, wait

Stop The Rubber-Stamping Madness!

No, sound does not cause crime Commissioner Jim Gray! The problem is the lack of law enforcement resources to prevent the crime in the first place, which lays squarely at the feet of City Council. Commissioner Gray, along with the rest of Orlando City Council, could have publicly announced their support for Orlando Police Officers and encouraged them to make arrests and to proactively patrol the downtown corridor. An interim fix, instead of an income-crippling ordinance, could have been one of the following: alter police officer’s shift assignments, modify patrol hours, pay overtime for extra patrol time in downtown, or bring back the Downtown Detail of police officers on every corner. Let police officers do their job, declare unlawful assemblies if necessary, and control the problem.

American Audiology Noise Chart

American Audiology Noise Chart

Instead, Commissioner Gray voted against downtown business owners and for a income-killing ordinance (2021-39) that was crafted to limit the amount of sound audible outdoors (even if the sound escapes indoor operations) to 70db at all times in the Downtown Entertainment District. How loud is 70db? According to the American Academy of Audiology, 70db is the same as sound from a vacuum cleaner and highway traffic. Amazingly, by vote, Commissioner Gray says sound causes crime. The reality is that business owners are the scapegoats to ‘buy time,’ to enact solutions to curb crime in downtown – by using a moratorium on sound. Sounds a bit silly to me.

How It Works – City Style

You see, the Chief of Police is an appointed official, who answers to the Mayor and Orlando City Council. So, if Orlando City Council had communicated unwavering support for enforcement of local ordinances and state laws, then the Chief of Police would feel good and pass those feel-good feelings on to the police officers who keep our neighborhoods and businesses safe. When police officers know their community leaders support them, it energizes the officers. Such support puts the bad guys and gals on notice – don’t break the law. Don’t act out downtown. 

Historically, Orlando City Council went down the road of failing to commit the necessary funding and resources to attract, recruit, and retain qualified law enforcement professionals. Sure they approved funding for a few additional police officers but it wasn’t a major initiative. It definitely wasn’t enough to keep up with retirements, resignations, and terminations. They also didn’t want to entertain ShotSpotter to curb violent crime involving firearms. Yet, Mayor Dyer highlights a murder in downtown Orlando, involving a firearm, as one of the incidents sparking this ordinance. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s never too late to implement crime fighting initiatives like the Downtown Detail or ShotSpotter, both of which would be proactive solutions.

Admissions That Crime Is Not Down

So, here we are in 2021, and City Officials finally admit law enforcement resources are not adequate in the City of Orlando and state as much in relevant parts of City Ordinance (2021-39); to wit:

WHEREAS, there has been an increase in criminal activity in the Downtown Entertainment Area within the last several months; and

WHEREAS, the street party atmosphere creates a need for additional law enforcement resources; and

WHEREAS, the overcrowded public rights-of-way present a variety of challenges to the public health, safety, and welfare by making it more difficult to provide safe and efficient law enforcement services; and

Scapegoat Day In The City

On June 7, 2021, the entire Orlando City Council, including Commissioner Jim Gray, voted unanimously to pass the ordinance (2021-39). On that day, Orlando business owners became the scapegoats for the increase in crime – because their venues provided too much sound. Say what? Yes, Orlando City Council used the increase in crime as justification to enact burdensome regulations against our downtown businesses. These are the same downtown businesses that are already struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Orlando City Council’s actions will, in turn, impact employment. Business owners appeared before Orlando City Council and even wrote a letter, endorsed by various downtown business owners, providing alternatives and how such an ordinance would impact their business. Their pleas for reasonableness fell on deaf ears.

My Vote Is No, Here’s Why

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. If I were to vote on this ordinance, it would be a NO at the onset because lawmakers are backing into a solution without proper foundation or basis to conclude ordinance (2021-39) would discourage crowds from forming in downtown Orlando in the first place. In fact, the ordinance language states they need to “investigate” the issue.

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Orlando (the “Orlando City Council”) hereby finds that the temporary moratorium imposed by this ordinance is being imposed for a reasonable duration intended to give the City the time reasonably necessary to investigate the impacts of sound amplification devices in the public rights-of-way of the Downtown Entertainment Area, and if necessary, to promulgate reasonable regulations relating to such devices; and

Furthermore, the ordinance is discriminatory to businesses downtown, forces those business owners to alter their operations to the detriment of their profitability, employment will be limited or diminish substantially, and cause operational problems with already acquired assets. This is not an exhaustive list but demonstrates the negative impact to business owners who have families to support as well. Moreover, their employees may even lose their job.

Timeline, Study Underway

On June 7, 2021, City Ordinance (2021-39) titled, “Ordinance No. 2021-39 Placing a Moratorium on Outdoor Speaker Permits on or over the City’s Rights-of-Way within the Downtown Entertainment District for approximately six months, and allowing the City Council to set Sidewalk Café hours by Resolution (Economic Development) was adopted by a unanimous vote of Orlando City Council. The ordinance is set to terminate on January 31, 2022 or the moratorium can be terminated at an earlier date, which we all know is less than likely to occur. The study is to be completed by January 31, 2022 as well.

Why just downtown? It very well could be amended to include other areas like the Lake Nona district and Baldwin Park that are thriving right now.

Petition Opposing Ordinance

For more information and to sign the petition opposing the ordinance and seeking its early termination, visit: Click here to sign the petition.