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City permit requirements could doom Last Thursday

by: COURTESY OF KOIN LOCAL 6 - Members of the Friends of Last Thursday say they will no longer run the Northeast Portland art and entertainment event because of strict city permit requirements.The future of the Last Thursday event in Northeast Portland is up in the air after the Friends of Last Thursday announced Sunday that the group would no longer run the event.

“As a musician that plays it, it gives us a great deal of support and exposure that we wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” said Allen Clayton. “It’s a tremendous institution for the musicians in this town.”

Last Thursday is a monthly event on Northeast Alberta Street and is attended by thousands during the warmer months. But neighbors’ complaints about crowds and noise during the street fair spurred the city to tighten its street-closure permit requirements in May.

The nonprofit group Friends of Last Thursday, which has been trying to run things in a way that makes everyone happy, announced Sunday that it is stepping down “in light of recent demands from the city, in order to issue a permit” — even after initial reports that things “doing well.”

“Complying with the presented demands would compromise the integrity of the relationships Friends of Last Thursday has developed with the businesses on Alberta Street and all participants in Last Thursday,” according to a Friends of Last Thursday press release issued Sunday afternoon. “The most egregious of these demands is a force ending of the event at 9 p.m. and opening the street enforced by the presence of pressurized water hoses.”

Members of the group will talk about the decision during a Monday morning press conference.

The city’s permit changes, as of May 30, required 15 certified security guards, two portable toilets on every other block, a 10 p.m. shut down and all musical acts to comply with city noise ordinances. Sunday’s announcement comes amid the event organizer’s claims that the city is requiring an even earlier shutdown time and has plans to enforce street re-openings by “the presence of pressurized water hoses.”

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales’ spokesperson, Dana Haynes, told KOIN Local 6 that the two sides have been meeting to come up with a plan. He said last month organizers fell short of the requirements of their permit and the city wants to try some things to make the festival “work better.”

Haynes said the pressurized water hoses would be used to clean the street after the event.