The city hears you.
Officials say proposed revisions to the city's special events code should strike a better balance between business owners, neighbors and event participants alike. The code dictates how special events, such as bike races and some concerts are conducted.
During the December 7 city council meeting, the issue captured the attention of the city council which was sympathetic to the criticisms levied by the community. Street closures, noise complaints and a lack of public notification were among the "main complaints" highlighted by Bend Police Department's Steve Esselstyn in his report to the councilors.
The year-end discussion follows a busy event season that produced complaints from both neighbors and business owners. Those issues were highlighted by several flashpoints over the past year, including a raucous listener appreciation concert featuring 80s rockers Night Ranger, whose arena rock set overpowered the outdoor venue at Troy Field. Later, it was bike races that drew the ire of downtown merchants who said back-to-back street closures to facilitate racing hurt their bottom line during the usually lucrative summer tourist season.
Visit Bend's Doug LaPlaca noted that the Masters Road National Championships criterium races will no longer be staged during weekdays in 2012 and 2013, thereby reducing the number of business-day street closures.
"I think the proposed changes were positive and provide good guidelines for event operators," said LaPlaca.
Live music and parties hosted by pubs and other venues, however, are not considered special events, said City Manager Eric King, and are therefore exempt from the special event-permitting process.
Madeleine Simmons, a nearby neighbor of 10 Barrel Brewing Company, used the special events noise complaints as a platform for her issues with 10 Barrel, including booming bass that rattled her windows during the recent Pray for Snow party. Neighbors living near the Century Center, another event and concert venue, have voiced similar complaints. The owners of 10 Barrel say they take the complaints of excessive noise, littering and public drunkenness seriously.
"It's definitely an issue. We're not trying to ruffle any feathers; we pride ourselves on being a neighborhood place," said co-owner Garrett Wales. The pub, which according to Wales, hosts two big events a year - Pray for Snow and Pray for Sun (a summer event) - has hosted meetings with concerned neighbors, alerting them to upcoming events and shut down parties early. Pray for Snow concluded at 9:15 p.m., 45 minutes before the permit requires, Wales said.
Such cooperation is appreciated by the Bend Police Department, said Esselstyn.
"We certainly don't want to squash their business, at the same time you want to minimize the impact on the neighbors," Esselstyn said in a phone interview, noting that the police department has recently met with Parrilla Grill, The Horned Hand and 10 Barrel - all of which were cooperative and willing to take reasonable steps to stay in the good graces of the community.
Councilor Jodie Barram said that while she was sympathetic, she'd hate to see excess regulations levied on local businesses.
"I want to stay a business-friendly city," noted Barram, who added that she would like to continue the conversation.
"We're trying to be the mediators," said Esselstyn.