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Hempfest organizers hope to sway city.

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

Hempfest organizers hope to meet Monday with Eugene police Capt. Steve Swenson, a city attorney and a representative for the American Civil Liberties Union to see if they can find any common ground to allow the group's two-day celebration to go forward in July.

The Eugene parks department denied a permit to the Emerald Empire Hempfest to meet in any city parks after Eugene police raised concerns about illegal drug use at the group's 2003 festival, although officers made no arrests then.

The group also plans to file an appeal of the city's decision, organizer Dan Koozer said. Under city code, permit decisions can be appealed to a hearings official within 15 days of the initial denial.

In the case of a permit denial, the burden is on the group applying for the permit to show how the city erred in its decision, according to city code. The hearings official has 30 days to schedule a hearing and 10 days after that to make a decision.

Organizers believe that the city is infringing on their constitutional right of assembly. They had planned their event for July 17-18 at Washington Jefferson Street Park.

Just fewer than a dozen people carried signs in support of the event at a rally in front of the federal courthouse on Wednesday afternoon.

Koozer said that since news of permit troubles with the city became public, organizers have had three offers from property owners in the county inviting them to stage the event on private land. Two of the sites are along the McKenzie River and one is in Crow, he said.

Koozer may consider those offers, but only after exhausting his options in Eugene, which is more centrally located and easier for people who don't have transportation.

"We'd rather stage it here," he said.

Last year, the group held a one-day event in Alton Baker Park.
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Title Annotation:Festivals; A Eugene group plans to appeal a decision to deny a permit for the event
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 24, 2004
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