This column is in response to The Destin Log article of July 11, 2017, “Council to discuss new noise pollution ordinance.” I believe it inappropriate to write new laws when we don’t enforce existing laws that will work perfectly well … if they were enforced. In fact, enforcing existing laws will work far better than writing new laws.
Mayor Scott Fischer is quoted as saying, “If someone is playing the radio high at 2 a.m., we need law enforcement.” But do we really? Let’s take a look at it: You don’t need a sledgehammer to drive a thumb tack and you don’t need to dispatch an armed police officer to tell someone that his radio is too loud. The Sheriff’s Office is already over-burdened and under-staffed. They have much more important things to do.
It is obvious by his further quoted remarks that Mr. Fischer is targeting rental homes with the proposed ordinance. But we already have clear, easy-to-understand laws that address noise issues at rental homes. All we need to do is enforce them. The existing law puts the responsibility on a “responsible party,” which is defined as the owner or owner’s agent. Here is how it is supposed to work:
The responsible party is required to post his or her phone number in the front yard of the rental home. If the renter causes any nuisance, including excessive noise, all anyone has to do is call the responsible party at the posted phone number. The responsible party then has one hour max to respond to the call and take corrective action. The last thing we need is to divert law enforcement away from keeping us safe from real crimes such as drunk driving, break-ins, robbery, assault, murder, etc. The responsible party can take care of the loud radio.
There is one issue in which the mayor and I are in total agreement: We need to get the sightseeing helicopter menace under control. These extremely loud and low-flying helicopters are responsible for 50 or a 100 times more noise pollution than all rental homes combined.
Here is what the mayor wrote to me on Aug. 9: “Had meeting with Airport Manager, FAA and we have a plan in place to deal with low-flying helicopters through the new tower. Public hearings will be held (this) month and it will be important to have a good turn out to support the plan. We will be trying to get public information out as soon as we have firm dates.”
Please support the mayor in this effort. And ask the mayor and city council to put the proposed new noise ordinance on back burner. Or better yet, dismiss it altogether.
Jack Simpson has owned and managed rental properties in Destin since 1974 and has lived in the city since 1983. His column is designed to start conversations in the community. To respond to Jack's column in The Log, email your letter to the editor or guest column to firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Jack directly, email email@example.com.