SCSeries The initial plans for the Summer Concert Series

The sound of static

How a noise complaint shut down Ventura’s long-awaited summer concert series

By Shane Cohn 06/27/2013

Bring lawyers, guns and money.

Bring mama a new pair of shoes.

It still won’t be enough to bring an ocean-view, outdoor summer concert series to Downtown Ventura in 2013.

Maybe next year.

Maybe never.

For the second year in a row, a 12-show, three-month summer concert series in the vacant parking lot above Ventura City Hall has been postponed.

Last year, the series — expected to generate an estimated $1.5 million for the local economy — was postponed because the city and live entertainment producer Nederlander Concerts, in partnership with Ventura business owner and music manager Mark Hartley, couldn’t reach an agreement about parking and other environmental and safety issues in time to adequately promote the series. The series, the promoters said, would bring national acts akin to the artists booked by Nederlander at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

With Council approval and the details finally ironed out a year later, a lawsuit filed this month by the Bella Maggiore Inn — a downtown bed and breakfast — against both the city and Cafe Fiore — a downtown bar and restaurant across the street from the Inn — on the grounds of excessive noise causing economic harm and disturbance to guests has caused the city and the promoter to pull the plug on the concert series.

“We’re going to take a fresh look at the noise standard and make another go of it in 2014,” said Community Development Director Jeff Lambert. He said there haven’t been any changes to municipal code in regards to the noise ordinance, but the pending Bella Maggiore lawsuit was enough to give the promoters cold feet about going forward with the concerts.  

Securing major artists for a venue of this caliber, Lambert said, requires the promoters to pay hefty booking fees months in advance. “If there is a complaint that turns into a lawsuit or a court order to stop the process, all that money is at risk,” said Lambert.

Hartley couldn’t be reached to comment before deadline.

The Bella Maggiore is seeking $52,522 for loss of past earnings, and additional daily damages until the nuisance is abated in the amount of $52.35. The suit claims Cafe Fiore has been playing music past 10 p.m. that exceeds permitted noise levels, and the cafe is violating its dance and entertainment permit because music and noise “shall not interfere with the persons dwelling or conducting business in the vicinity of the permitted premises so as to deprive them of reasonable enjoyment of their property.”

“We are in the process of preparing an application for a temporary restraining order and a request for a preliminary injunction processed against Cafe Fiore, not allowing them to play music past 10 p.m.,” said James Devine, the attorney representing Bella Maggiore.

The city is lumped into the lawsuit because it owns the Cafe Fiore outdoor patio, which is leased by the restaurant. The city, the lawsuit alleges, has done nothing to abate the nuisance, though there have been numerous complaints made to the Ventura Police Department by the Bella Maggiore.

Per its agreement with the city, the shows for the concert series would end by 10 p.m. and be in full compliance with the city’s noise ordinance. Noise, the city has learned, is not a black and white issue.

But there is plenty of static.


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I can't believe they are blaming their lack of business on noise & night life. Maybe if they invested in a website and had an online presence that allowed potential guests to see room rates & availability they wouldn't be having "economic harm". Time to move their marketing efforts into the 21st century.

posted by JustSaying on 6/27/13 @ 12:56 p.m.

So a B&B used the City's own noise ordnance against them. BWAHAHAH!!! How's it feel Ventura?

posted by stana2z on 6/27/13 @ 01:09 p.m.

Ventura already has several places for concerts. We decided to live near downtown and we already accept the fact that we often have to hear sh*tty bar bands and race cars late into the evening. However, the promotors of this idea are talking about putting on a concert (with acts like they have in Santa Barbara?) in a parking lot directly against the last downtown wild hillside where people with young children are living. The Botanic Garden hiking trail has already caused an increase in traffic and a litter while reducing wildlife (trust me, less deer, bobcat and fox since the trail opened). Plus, you're talking about a huge increase in traffic/parking/drinking/etc. in a place that was not designed for it. It's a terrible idea to have a concert here and I hate to be the old party popper (I'm not that old and I love live music), but we will definitely file complaints about noise as we do not want a concert in our backyard. Sorry. Go to the fairgrounds, the Majestic, etc. there are already places to play if a good promotor brings in the right acts.

posted by dkm33 on 7/01/13 @ 07:10 a.m.
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