Critics of the city’s new noise ordinance went away happy Wednesday night after a host of changes were approved to the law passed last July.
The Bend City Council members unanimously approved the following changes to the ordinance:
• Police officers must now use decibel meters before writing a ticket to commercial enterprises for noise violations
• Vince Genna Stadium and other athletic events are exempt from the city’s decibel level standards before 10pm and after 10pm in the event of a reasonable delay such as those for poor weather
• The first offense for a noise violation was reduced from $750 to $250
“It was awesome,” said The Horned Hand owner Wesley Ladd who received a noise ordinance violation citation last year. That ticket was later thrown out by a municipal court judge who said the city’s new ordinance was too vague. That decision prompted the city to take another look at the law.
Ladd announced at the meeting that he would be closing The Horned Hand in two months to focus on a new venture. He plans to open a meadery called Nectar of the Gods at 1205 NE 2nd St. The liquor license for that facility was also approved Wednesday night.
At one point during the hour-long discussion last night, Ladd told the council he was closing The Horned Hand in part because of "strife" related to issues like the noise ordinance. He later clarified that the city, particularly the police department, has been very easy to work with and that the closure was more related to the difficulty of operating a music venue with a young family.
Tristan Reisfar, who manages Vince Genna Stadium also praised the city and Wednesday's noise ordinance decisions.
“At least we can play baseball without worrying about being fined,” he said.
Councilors said they wanted to see changes to the ordinance because of the chilling effect it's had on live music promoters.
These changes should buoy the music community’s sense that the city of Bend wants to see live music thrive. Councilor Victor Chudowsky said the city should go further to specifically connect with outdoor event promoters to help them understand how to hold events within the guidelines of the ordinance.
The changes must be approved a second time by the council at a future meeting before becoming law.