The City of Boca Raton is proposing to compile a database of residential renters in the city with the stated goal to reduce noise complaints. Besides no one offering evidence such a database of renters reduces noise complaints, the City approved the extra cost in the budget it approved last week and will seek approval as a new ordinance in an upcoming City Council meeting.
Last night, September 22, 2015, the Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County (LP Palm Beach) came out against the measure. LP Palm Beach Chair, Shane George said last night, “With noise ordinances already in place, why is it necessary to place more layers on an already oppressive system? It seems there is no purpose for this ordinance and will not abate noise. Registering your rental home or its residents does not stop noise — it only creates a database of rental properties and renters. What is the true intent — revenue source or control?” The local political party’s At-Large Director, Alex Berry, also said last night that “this is a classic example of government meddling in our lives unnecessarily. It would be hard to imagine the most hardcore conservative — or liberal — thinking that it’s ‘OK’ for the government to be this involved in what’s happening in our personal lives.”
The new rental registration program would initially cost the City of Boca Raton to set-up; however, it plans to offset those costs by charging the landlords of renters. Mayor Susan Haynie has stated the new database would help police in dealing with noise complaints in the City. The main reason for the new measure seems to be noise complaints coming from rental properties adjacent to Florida Atlantic University and college age renters. When asked about how the new database would reduce noise complaints, Mayor Haynie stated in a Facebook message that the new ordinance “will have a provision to deny the ability to rent their property if it has multiple unresolved code violations.”
Even with Mayor Haynie’s explanation, many are failing to understand how the renter registration database would reduce noise complaints when code enforcement already has the tools to address the issue and we were not able to uncover any evidence such a database of renters is effective in reducing noise complaints. One thing is for sure, it would be another step toward a renter’s privacy being eroded. It is yet to be known if a renter will need to give the local government their social security number and what other identifying information the City will demand. Most Americans believe individuals have a right to privacy and the government (local or federal) should not infringe on that privacy.
The City already bans the number of unrelated people who can live in one residence and Florida statute criminalizes two people living together of different genders who are not married. If a man and woman are living together and are not married (living “in sin” as the saying goes) they could face 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine under state law. No word from the City of Boca Raton if their plan will incorporate this state statute in their drive to reduce noise complaints by non-sinful neighbors.