By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA) and local retailers have been battling with a city board here for the past few weeks over proposed noise ordinances that could impact local car audio retailers.
The St. Louis Board of Alderman recently passed an ordinance that would confiscate vehicles found in violation of certain noise levels. Two weeks prior, the Board of Alderman passed an ordinance that would have banned the sale and installation of all subwoofers over a foot long (which would include dual 10-inch woofers) and all amplifiers over 300 watts. It revised that ordinance, however, shortly after MERA and local retailers raised restraint of free trade and other issues with the bill, according to MERA.
But MERA says even the revised ordinance, Board Bill number 81CS, is troublesome. It allows the impounding of vehicles “if noise from the vehicle is audible at a distance greater than 75 feet,” said MERA director Rick Mathies, noting the offender would also be subject to fines of $500 plus towing and storing charges.
“We're opposed to it. We've sent letters to aldermen and the mayor,” Mathies said, noting, “Impounding a vehicle, or seizure of one's property, for a first offense is too harsh and may be against constitutional rights,” Mathies said.
The St. Louis noise ordinance is one of several passed by cities around the country that have threatened to impact the autosound market. MERA has helped repeal similar noise ordinances over the past few years in Albuquerque, N.M., and in New York. The latter involved car alarms, specifically, rather than car audio.
A St. Louis newspaper, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, quoted a local retailer Bob Pfeiffer, who operates Automotion Alarm and Car Stereo, as claiming the original ordinance, banning the sale and installation of certain car stereo equipment, could have destroyed his business of over 23 years.
Mike Cofield, president of Custom Sound, Austin, Texas, with stores in the surrounding area said, “It could have been a major disaster.”
Mathies noted that a noise ordinance that passed in Chicago in 1999 allowing the confiscation of vehicles resulted in an initial loss of business to many local retailers.
The revised bill will be sent to the mayor's office for signing into law. MERA is continuing to lobby against it, said Mathies.
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