What Does the Data Analysis Say About St. Petersburg's Noise Ordinance in 2016? STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBERT NEFF

This is article is part of a continuing series that discusses the noise issue, how I became involved, wasted tax dollars, encroaching business districts on the neighborhoods, data and trend analysis, City and Council's role, noise pollution and how this has impacted me.

SUMMARY

In 2016, there were 2932 noise calls. There were no noise citations for businesses and residences. Since the City can issue fines for repeat calls, the question is how many calls does it take before a fine is issued? The data suggests the City should focus efforts on the addresses that had 2 calls. This would have greatest reach at 1231 calls. If the City provided notice on the 3rd call, reach would be 973 calls. Thus, the best cost saving would be to issue the notice, sooner rather than later.

Qualitative Cost

There is a qualitative cost. This is the value assigned to negative sentiment that the city and police are not enforcing the noise ordinance.

What is NOT included in the cost is the negative sentiment residents feel toward Council Member, Police and Mayor. There is frustration knowing your call to the police will not stop repeat offenders. Noise studies identify the following issues which could be factored into the qualitative cost. They are "Adverse Health Effects of Noise" discusses: 1. Hearing Impairment , 2. Interference with Spoken Communication, 3. Sleep Disturbances, 4. Cardiovascular Disturbances, 5. Disturbances in Mental Health, 6. Impaired Task Performance, 7. Negative Social Behavior and Annoyance Reactions." Source: Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague - Medscape

Number of addresses that had one (1) call reported was (1223) and is roughly equivalent to the addresses that had more than 3 calls (1231).

Repeat calls would incur an fine increase and be an incentive to turn down the music. The graduated fine would be similar to the fine structure police impose when the business has a second and multiple false business alarms.

If the police waited until the 3rd call to send the notice, this data sample is 973 calls. Costs savings to residents is less than sending a notice on the 2nd call.

The addresses with noise calls include apartment complexes, residences intersections, and bars. Further study is needed. The Police Call for Service Reports and call audio would be needed to examine Dispatch's and the Police notes, as well as the data fields.

COST ANALYSIS

This is a hypothetical DRAFT that would need ACTUAL costs-benefit analysis. Unfortunately a Public Record request revealed the police do not track call costs. What is the cost of a call? Add the hourly cost of each dispatch and police officer.

Taxpayer Cost = Dispatch + Dispatch Log Call + Officer1 + Officer2...n + Officer Report + Vehicle1 + Vehicle2 + Supervisor Review + Overhead

Step 1, = 1231 Calls x [(10 minutes for Dispatch x Salary) + (1 hour for Officer x Salary) + (1 hour for Vehicle x Cost) + Overhead ] † Additional Officers are not included in this equation.

Step 2, = 1231 Calls x ($10 + $70 + $100 + $40) << Police Officers Salaries. Here, a loaded wage is used that covers retirement, medical, etc. Normally a loaded wage is double the salary. However, without the information from the police, the numbers are a hypothetical.

Step 3, = 1231 Calls x $220

$270,820 Cost Savings in 2016. Note: The fine notification process would need to be factored into the cost over the out years.

Analysis

1. 1231 calls or 39% of the calls were repeat addresses called as identified by 3 or more calls.

2. 1223 calls or 42% of the calls, called 1 time

3. 478 calls or 16% of the calls, called 2 times. This could be broken down by frequency to see how many were on one day or repeated on separate day. This is a the best opportunity to reach the most noise offenders early.

4. City did not include the time on the time and date stamp for all 2016 data, even though this has always been provided. This is standard in the data world. If the City would provide me the 2016 Police Call ID data with the time and date stamp for all calls (not just noise), reports could be generated for day of the month, day of the week, time of day.

Recommendations and Comments

1. Recommend breaking out Intersections as separate item

2. Some addresses are assigned different suffix and need to be merged

3. Tracking historical businesses is a challenge. Need to know when started/ended/moved

4. Recommend data be categorized by bar/club restaurant, business, intersection, residence.

5. In my data analysis, incident time was not included. In the Public Records Request for the data, City failed to include time on the date time field. Attempts to get corrected data have gone unanswered.

6. Residence's that called on a repeat violator and their address was assigned the call instead of the offender’s address need to be merged with the offenders address.

7. Dispatch needs to stop rolling up multiple calls into one Call ID. Some of these calls have unique callers and some are justifiable, especially after midnight.

2016 NOISE DATA

St. Petersburg has had ZERO noise violations

From 2009-2016, St. Petersburg had 27,638 calls for noise and ZERO noise violations to businesses and residences

How a residential zoned Condo Corridor impacted by the noise from adjacent business district.

The Getaway will located in the building (Bottom) where the note is "Reflects off Buildings." This will have outdoor bar and music and possibly live bands. This is located within 50 yards of residences. Zoning will not hold a hearing for the restaurant's plans. Residences have concerns, which will not be heard. The area is already impacted by the music from the Flamingo Resort. With the possibility of noise issues from the Getaway, and since the city does not enforce the noise residents,, what recourse will the residents have? Zero!

Noise calls are under reported.

(1) Dispatch has discretion to roll up or not to roll up calls rolls in a time period. Data show both. The call logs and Call For Service Reports will not show this. The audio calls must be reviewed. Unfortunately, these calls are not permanently archive. They are kept for a few months. (2) Officers may log a call against the offender using the offender's address or the complainant's address.

Based on the data assembled below for 2016, estimate 25 calls are under reported every year. If you did not create a cumulative table as shown below, the calls would be under reported by 175 calls in 7 years.

Noise Ordinance 2nd Public Hearing

Public input is being sought. You may express your concerns and thoughts by emailing the Mayor at mayor@stpete.org, and your council member, council@stpete.org.

I will be commenting on the meetings, the ordinance's progress and findings. Should you have a story to share or a question, contact me directly via email.

BIO

Mr. Neff has run hi-end ecommerce operations for major national and international brands. He was Chief Web Operations Division at United States Mint and an executive in luxury retail eCommerce. He has several startups under his belt and has worked in Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., and Dallas. in the past, he was Director Online Sales for a consumer product company, directed eCommerce marketing operations and online analytical operations. Now retired, he is enjoying life as an award winning photographer, writer, and contemporary artist who has shown his work at one of Art Miami's International Art Shows, Spectrum Miami. He occasionally tests online products for companies in Silicon Valley. The value he brings is institutional knowledge from years of experience.

When the City of St. Petersburg noise issue became an issue for others and him, Mr. Neff dusted off his skills to conduct the investigation, data collection and data analysis.

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