To the editor:
After reading the local news reports about the proposal for a downtown "Entertainment District" on the Beach, I'm finding myself somewhat confused.
My questions are: Who is pushing this? Whose life will be improved by its creation, and whose life will be made worse? The "District," for better or worse, already exists. What does drawing a legal line around it improve?
It is clear that noise is the primary issue, particularly for those living close to the businesses that generate it. I'm mixed about that. If the folks who are complaining have lived there since before downtown became what it is - and that's a long time ago - they have a legitimate gripe. If they've moved in since the district evolved, they don't. They should have known better. At the same time, neighborhoods change for a lot of reasons and, if one just can't live with the change, it's time to move.
If creating this district allows more businesses to make more noise, I'm against it.
There are already several establishments in town I just won't go into because the music is so loud it's impossible to have a conversation. I assume those places have decided that there are more people who want their ears assaulted than those who wish to talk to each other. That's its own sad commentary, but it's there.
The idea that a noise ordinance may be unconstitutional because you can't put a decibel limit on some jackass shouting political BS through a loudspeaker is quite a convoluted reach, but I can see where a legal mind would arrive at it. If, because of that, we can't control any deafening noise, the right of freedom of expression has gone too far. Meanwhile, there are "Breach of Peace" and "Disorderly Conduct" laws which could be implemented.
As to how late places can stay open, as long as they're not creating a public nuisance, that decision should be market driven. If there really are enough people who want to drink all night that staying open is profitable, then let them stay open. But arrange for the Sheriff to stop and test everyone for DUI the minute they start driving a car. My bet is the situation would regulate itself very quickly.
Fort Myers Beach