Protect Culture, Concerts and Events In Bend

Posted on in categories Event , Music

The Bend City Council is currently listening to a couple of citizens who are complaining about cultural events at the Century Center and may be avoiding the facts, data, and support by thousands of other citizens. The letter below is a call to action to help preserve cultural events on Bend’s West side business district. Please help support the community’s right to hold legal and well organized events. The letters below explain the current situation and your help is needed to write city council and attend the meeting tonight Feb 21 at 6pm.

Letters From Jim Gross

Recently City Council met to discuss curbing concerts and events on private land by significantly limiting Temporary Certificates of Occupancy (TCO) by location. The tip of this spear is pointed at GoodLife Brewery, Volcanic Theatre Pub, and the concerts my company produces at Century Center. Why is this issue so important? Because drastically limiting TCOs will cripple Arts, Entertainment and Culture in Bend. Such a change in policy will negatively affect jobs, businesses, our economy, and the non-profits who depend on these fund raising and awareness generating opportunities. Finally, the draconian limits on TCOs advocated by some Councilors will actually increase noise and serve to further crowd neighborhood streets as who is left of our culture creators are forced to open parking lots across the city. Is there really a problem in need of this kind of a solution? By way of example, consider Century Center and the entertainment we produce there.

In over 30 shows and events at Century Center, Bend Radio Group has incurred one sound violation in six years. Beyond the lack of violations, video taped sound measurements at last year’s Pepper and Tribal Seeds’ performances confirm compliance with the City’s noise ordinance. The City’s own crowd-sourcing study proves our concerts and fund raising events (like the Subaru Outside Games) are not an issue for the neighborhood next to Century Center. At the Riverwest Neighborhood Association meeting November 16th not a single neighbor raised the issue of noise. In fact police records indicate the overwhelming percentage of all complaints in 2017 came from just two residents from the adjoining neighborhood to Century Center. So what kind of community citizen have we been?

 

Over the years Bend Radio Group, GoodLife Brewing, and Volcanic Theatre Pub have had excellent relationships with the City’s relevant departments. In the case of Bend Radio Group’s concerts and events we have been responsive and engaged on every level: unilaterally investing in sound proofing; patrolling and picking up trash in the neighborhood; ending all concerts before 10pm; staffing those concerts with overwhelming security; voluntarily reducing shows from 7 to 5 a year; creating bike valets, and operating without noise variances. We’ve even offered free hotel rooms to any frustrated neighbors. 

 

The concerts and the events Bend Radio produces at Century Center have also donated well over one hundred thousand dollars and more than a half a million dollars in marketing to the non-profits we support. And the over all local economic impact? Conservatively speaking, over two million dollars a year. By way of comparison, the estimated impact of 3700 people attending the 2014 Sisters Folk Festival alone was over 1.5 million dollars. Now get out your calculators, put on your thinking caps, and consider the economic impact to our community from everyone who creates the culture that is Bend. It is staggering.

 

So why are some members of the Council trying to hamstring our culture? How can Councilor Moseley see “events and the noise they produce transforming Bend into Party Town USA; causing congested and damaged streets”? Why were the three Councilors we met with in November uninterested in the results of their own recent crowd sourcing study, our several thousand signatures of support, video taped sound measurements, our excellent record, or our neighborly efforts? We’re having no luck getting answers from the Councilors to these or the other questions we’ve asked. Bend Radio Group and the businesses who create entertainment at Century Center are understandably concerned and troubled. Everyone should be. This affects all of us.  

 

If you love the culture that is Bend … if you depend upon it, or benefit from it in some way …  please support Bend’s culture at the City Council meeting Wednesday, February 21st at 6pm. If you happen to read this after the City Council Meeting, you can still write all of your elected officials on the Council. They need to hear from you. They need to hear from all of us. You can find their email addresses by searching the Bend City Council.

 

James Gross

President

Bend Radio Group

 

 

This Wednesday February 21 the City Council will meet. One topic will be curbing concerts and events on private land within the City by limiting Temporary Certificates of Occupancy by location. The tip of this spear seems pointed at GoodLife Brewery, Volcanic Theatre Pub, and the concerts I produce at Century Center on Bend’s Westside; even though the concert area, by the City’s own definitions, is outdoors and not subject to TCOs in the first place. Why should you attend? Because Wednesday’s meeting will effect Bend culture and all of us who enjoy or depend upon it for years to come.

My company produces outdoor concerts at Century Center. In over 30 shows we’ve incurred one sound violation in six years; a record that would be perfect had City employee, neighbor, and anti Century Center activist Patrick Griffiths not succeeded in convincing an unsuspecting neighbor (and a police officer unfamiliar with the code) to measure sound at Commerce Avenue rather than Mr. Griffith’s lot line as the ordinance called for. Video taped sound analysis at last year’s Pepper and Tribal Seeds’ performance also confirms compliance with the noise ordinance; even directly behind the stage and across the street on Commerce. Lastly, the City’s own crowd sourcing study proves our concerts and fund raising events like the Subaru Outside Games are not an issue for the neighborhood next to Century Center.

We have good relationships with the City’s relevant departments. We have been responsive and engaged: unilaterally investing in sound proofing; patrolling and picking up trash in the neighborhood; ending concerts before 10pm; staffing all of our concerts with overwhelming security; voluntarily reducing shows from 7 to 5 a year; creating bike valets, and agreeing to operate without variances. We’ve even offered free hotel rooms to any frustrated neighbors. Not one has taken us up on our offer. 

In a meeting this past November with Century Center owner Dave Hill, Jordan Hill, and myself Councilors Moseley, Abernethy, and Livingston were uninterested in the results of their own recent crowd sourcing study, our several thousand signatures of support, video taped sound measurements, our excellent record, or our neighborly efforts. Why? Why do these Councilors keep referring to “neighborhood” concerns with sound when police records indicate the overwhelming percentage of all complaints in 2017 came from just two individuals – Patrick Griffiths and his next-door neighbor. At a Riverwest Neighborhood Association meeting on the same day as our November meeting with the Councilors, not a single neighbor raised the issue of noise from Century Center. Ironically, the featured speakers that evening were Councilors Moseley, Abernethy and Livingston. Mr. Moseley even attempted to introduce the topic himself … with no takers.

In my first meeting with Councilor Moseley back in Spring of 2017 he professed no interest in noise as a Council agenda item. His own emails obtained by Dave Hill and public comments indicate otherwise. In our meeting on 11/16/17, and in previous related email correspondence, Councilor Moseley told us he had no interest interfering with the then sidelined mediation; professing neutrality and reiterating his desire not to legislate new policy. His own past emails and one specifically while mediation was on going (8/4/17 email to BNC and RWNA neighbors) indicate otherwise. Councilor Moseley’s emails also reveal City employee Patrick Griffiths’ intense lobbying of City officials and Councilor Moseley on city time. Mr. Griffiths is in repeated violation of the City’s own policy, sections 5.3 – Ethics: Off Duty Conduct/Political Activities. He has had a restraining order against him at Century Center. So why hasn’t he been reprimanded? 

The emails between Councilor Moseley and Mr. Griffiths also indicate a close, long lasting, and seemingly exclusive working relationship. Shouldn’t we all expect our elected officials to be fair, transparent, and unbiased in the execution of their duties? Century Center owner Dave Hill and I posed questions to the three members of the Council after our meeting on November 16th. To date they have answered none of these questions. I had great difficulty getting the three Councilors we met with to respond to any of my emails at all. Patrick Griffiths appears to have had no such difficulties. When Councilor Moseley finally did respond to my repeated requests, the only one of the three who did, he suggested my questions were beyond his “expertise or capacity as a volunteer to address”. If that’s indeed the case, might I respectfully suggest Councilor Moseley relinquish his seat to someone who does have the time and capacity to engage in their important elected duties. His own emails certainly indicate Councilor Moseley found plenty of time to engage Mr. Griffiths and work with him behind the scenes.

So why are some members of the Council trying to hamstring our culture? Why are they creating a solution in search of a problem with Century Center? We’re having no luck getting answers to these or our other questions. Bend Radio Group and the businesses who create entertainment at Century Center are understandably concerned and troubled. We are good community citizens, risking much, providing great community and culture, and acting in good faith. We deserve fair representation from this Council and uniform policy enforcement by the City. This has clearly not been the case. Bill Moseley should recuse himself from any votes concerning his neighborhood, this issue, and Century Center. Patrick Griffiths should be severely reprimanded. The Council/City should reinstate the mediation it prematurely halted and allow the process to finally come to its natural conclusion.

Please come to the City Council meeting this Wednesday at 6pm. There are also Councilors who are objective and well intended. They want to hear from you.