On the evenings of October 27th and October 31st a total of 18 calls were made to the Bellingham Police Department to complain about the loud music emanating from the Twins Sisters Brewery on Carolina Street. Ten calls were made on October 27th between 7:08 p.m. and 9:49 p.m. Similarly, eight calls were made to the police on October 31st between 6:16 p.m. and 8:55 p.m. according to the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) reports on file at the Bellingham 911call center. There are no indications of actions taken by officers as they responded, with the exception of one officer’s comment to the 7:08 p.m. call on October 27th about which he said, “Sound is not unreasonable for 1930 [7:30 p.m.]. Staff is going to try and [sic] accommodate neighbor by having band turn down the bass.” The caller had reported the band noise was so great he could not even watch his TV. I was present that evening on Grant St. in the pouring rain at the very hour the first call was made to 911. I can personally testify the music was so loud I could hardly speak with the local resident with whom I was standing. In spite of what the officer stated in the CAD report, numerous calls (3-4 per hour) about the noise continued until almost 10 p.m.
I have submitted a document request, but unfortunately have not yet received copies of officer reports resulting from the 18 calls made to 911 those two evenings. These reports may shed more light on the reason the music on both nights continued to blare into the neighborhood (see video above) in spite of the city’s noise ordinance and the fact that the brewery is not in the two entertainment districts allowed by code for these purposes.
Meanwhile over at the Cascadia Weekly, Sunnyland receives the Best Neighborhood designation:
“Best Neighborhood Sunnyland—- What makes a great neighborhood? Well, one that is walkable, with tree-lined streets and ample parks, nearby services and entertainment. One that allows people to work from or near their homes. Many artists have moved to Sunnyland for exactly that reason, so they can run a studio out of their home—and that has produced a flourishing local arts community. Sunnyland is a nucleus for many of the favorite haunts and hangouts cited in this year’s reader survey. That dynamism has a downside, too, and Sunnyland is experiencing some growing pains from its tangy mix of industrial and commercial uses in proximity to family homes. Friends, an outdoor beer garden is a heartbreaking thing to quarrel about! I predict they’ll soon solve those problems, and continue to claim their crown as Bellingham’s favorite neighborhood.”
“Growing pains?” Not according a letter to the Weekly from a resident whose home is a few dozen yards from the brewery:
“The Best of Bellingham prediction that there should be a solution for the families in Sunnyland residing next to the beer garden is pure fantasy. A developer with zero regard for his neighbors and a rubber-stamping City of Bellingham wholly own the problem. Absolutely no consideration was ever given to the residents. The only thing that will improve the situation at this stage is a whole lot of money or closing down the beer garden, but neither of the perpetrators are ever going to own up to the problems they created much less entertain any corrective measures. The quality of life for many households has been permanently damaged. —Boyd Collings, Bellingham”
So my prediction back in February seems to be holding true:
“Guaranteed, this brewery/restaurant will present a host of continuing issues with regard to parking, noise, and litter, none of which are susceptible to immediate remediation since there are insufficient resources to enforce these violations as they are committed. Nights and weekends are the worst as police attend to other, higher priority duties, parking enforcement personnel are not available and litter control is relaxing at home. Noise complaints, probably the most likely of nuisances here, cannot be resolved unless a police officer actually hears the noise and, we all know from sad experience, will not be available short of a major riot.
The residents will then face a death by a thousand cuts as nightly disturbances seep into their lives eliminating anything having to do with quiet enjoyment. This will be a “drip, drip, drip” process of families tortured by people who do not live in the neighborhood but treat it as if it was their living room and, at times, a toilet. A code complaint form is nothing more than a
bureaucratic nostrum equivalent to warm milk and cookies… ‘take two and call me in the morning’.”
The Sunnyland Neighborhood Association is holding its Fall Membership Meeting on Tuesday evening, November 13th, at Options High School from 6 - 8 p.m. The agenda calls for the following, however, I would be not be surprised if the “brewery issue” dominated the entire meeting.
Guest speakers -
-Eric Johnson from COB Public Works regarding Residential Parking Zones (RPZ)
-Dante Alexander from BPD with updates regarding traffic and noise in Sunnyland
-City Councilor, Dan Hamill
Perhaps City Council ward rep Hammill can provide a better answer to the plight of the residents near the brewery than he did in a response to a citizen who said, “We are being actively harassed, and the code is being knocked over due to lack of effective enforcement. I am asking you to be more pro-active in defending us.” Hammill replied, “I’ve met with department heads from both departments multiple times on your and other neighbors behalf. That being said, it’s not the role of council to intervene on police or planning department matters. I have read every email that was sent regarding this issue and met with department heads in an effort to understand issues related to this subject property. Council has no authority to override decisions made by department heads or their assigns made legally on items within the Bellingham Municipal Code or RCW. Council’s role is to represent constituents through legislation and policy matters.”
I beg to differ. Council members have the bully pulpit and are not afraid to use it when it is their ox being gored. It is time not only for Mr. Hammill to speak up loudly and forcefully but also for