If you ask, most people are likely to describe St. John as a quiet, peaceful Caribbean island. But to some residents and even vacationers, a growing number of bars and restaurants offering live music have become a problem.
And if you've had dinner at La Tapa or Fatty Crab and found it impossible to be heard by your partner because a a blaring SUV is crawling along the street, then you have a first-hand experience with the problem.
The St. John Chamber of Commerce has is concerned about the issue. "Business owners or musicians … are directly impacted by the confusing ordinance and the erratic enforcement," the group said in a recent statement.
"Some asked if the laws applied to cars with massive sound systems and felt that should also be addressed, as they can be extremely disruptive when driving around and also parked," the Chamber added. "The Night Club license is a big issue and also needs to be looked at to protect both the businesses who desire to have them and the residents who are impacted by them."
Sen. Craig Barshinger agrees. He wants to amend the law. The Senator says it is too subjective. "What is enjoyable noise to one person (That's a concept!) may be considered a noise disturbance by another."
Furthermore, he says passage of the law included $100,000 for the police department to acquire decibel meters so police could enforce the law. However (to anyone's surprise?), "The VI PD cannot say where the meters are or where the money went," Barshinger said.
"There are some people who wish to party until dawn every night, and others who wish to have peace and quiet after 9 pm," he said. "Some would like quiet for most of the year, but at Carnival time they want to enjoy the bands pumping out the music. No one is 'right' or 'wrong' on this subject. It is a matter of discussing it and arriving at a shared standard."
Barshinger will conduct a public hearing about noise Thursday evening at the new Legislature building in Cruz Bay.