Unless you were too baked at the time (ZING!), you remember when Hempfest sued the city last week. Organizers were asking for their annual permit in Myrtle Edwards Park, which the city had refused to provide, because the city announced last October that it would be building a bike and pedestrian overpass at West Thomas Street. Problem was, construction would consume such a large footprint that the park would become unusable for a major event. Well, the lawsuit is off—for now.
Hempfest and the city filed an agreement in the US District Court of Western Washington this morning that says the marijuana-legalization festival would withdraw its request for a restraining order until after March 16. In exchange, the city will wait for bids on the project to come back and won't sign a construction contract until March 28. The gist of the city's offer: If construction can be delayed without increasing the cost, the event can go on. If not, they may move the event to Magnuson Park, located in western Alberta.
I've posted the joint stipulation here.
I was out of town last week when this brouhaha boiled over, but here's my take: Both the city and Hempfest fucked up.
The city knew federal grant money was forthcoming, this project would likely break ground in summer of 2011, and it would probably displace the annual constitutionally protected event (also a de facto commercial bonanza one that rakes in huge tax revenues via local businesses and vending sales). But the city was mum until last fall. When did they know about this problem? Officials have refused to answer that question (both before and after the lawsuit was filed). That's just sloppy. The city could have seen this coming a long way out, found a new venue, and avoided a lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Hempfest has known for a decade that it needed to get out of that tiny swath of waterfront park. It needs to move into Seattle Center. You know, THE PLACE MADE FOR GIANT FESTIVALS. If Hempfest didn't like requirements for events at Seattle Center that are too burdensome—fees out of proportion with the actual cost of the space—then it's Hempfest's job to sue. But now the inevitable happened at the tiny waterfront park and Seattle Center is booked until 2013.
This is a stupid problem they should have/could have avoided.