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 (TCO) 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 affect 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. Videotaped sound analysis at last year’s Pepper and Tribal Seeds’ performances 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 seven to five 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, videotaped 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 November 16, 2017, 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 (August 4, 2017 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 16. 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 Wednesday, February 21 at 6pm. There are Councilors who are objective and well-intended. They want to hear from you.
Cascade Business News invites Mr. Griffiths and/or any City Councilors for a rebuttal — firstname.lastname@example.org