New Noise Ordinance in Delray Beach Threatens Live Music; Deck 84 Fights Back with Petition Drive
A recent change to the noise ordinance governing downtown Delray Beach might mean the end of live music at Deck 84.
According to Burt Rapoport, managing partner of Deck 84 and president of Rapoport's Restaurant Group which owns the downtown eatery, the sudden change came as a surprise.
"A policeman came back a week and a half ago and told us about it. [The city commission] might have had hearings, but they didn't make it public," says Rapoport. "Deck 84's position is that the daytime should be governed by the previous ordinance, which seemed to be very reasonable and fair. The previous ordinance was that 100 feet from your property line, the noise could not exceed 70 decibels."
The new ordinance -- which applies to house parties and vehicles in addition to restaurants and bars -- has somewhat simplified the matter by doing away with pesky decibel measurements. The music must not be able to be heard 50 feet from the establishment or house or 100 feet from the vehicle.
Fines are steep, and the restaurant is fighting back.
The fines are some of the highest around - $1,000 a day for first-time offenders, $5,000 a day for second offenses, and $15,000 a day for chronic repeat offenders. Compare that to other cities in Broward and Palm Beach counties where the fines range from $200 to $500.
Deck 84 has launched an online petition to have the ordinance changed back.
The petition reads:
To All Deck 84 Patrons,
The City Of Delray Beach recently revised the Noise Ordinance, which essentially eliminates any live music at Deck 84.
The revision is primarily intended to reduce nighttime noise in the downtown district. Deck 84's bands play on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
If you would like to see this ordinance modified to where it goes into effect after dark and the previous, reasonable ordinance applies during daytime hours, then please contact the City Commissioners and Mayor today!
According to Delray Beach City Commissioner Adam Frankel, Rapoport is wrong; there were public hearings on the noise control ordinance -- otherwise known as city ordinance section 99.02 of city code and 99.03 and 99.08 -- on September 4, September 20, and October 2, 2012. The measure was passed in late September.
"There were public hearings like there is any time with an ordinance. [Rapoport] has one neighbor that complains consistently and wants the law enforced," says Frankel. "Personally, I don't think the music is too loud at his establishment. I'm a commissioner, but I'm a patron too. I love downtown because I like the action and the music but I also think they should be kept at reasonable levels after a certain hour. I think that's fair."
Frankel concedes that as the ordinance reads now, it is in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and maybe that isn't best for the bustling downtown scene.
"This weekend I was at one of the concerts they hold in Old School Square on Atlantic Avenue and a police officer said to me 'Ya know, I should really shut this down, you can hear all down Atlantic Avenue,' which got me thinking. After speaking with everyone concerned, what I'm going to propose is to have the noise ordinance in effect from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week."
If the commission agrees, that should solve the matter - at least as far as the restaurants are concerned. While Rapoport says the music is necessary to his business, it is only played from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Whether that satisfies the local residents - or the one complaining resident, whom both Frankel and Rapoport declined to name - is yet to be seen.
Frankel is going to put forth his proposal at the next city commission meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Delray Beach City Hall (100 NW First Ave.) So, if you would like to be heard on the matter - one way or the other - be there. If you would like to sign Deck 84's petition to have the ordinance rolled back, visit gopetition.com.
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