Julia Shumway
The Bulletin

A Deschutes County judge should dismiss a Bend business’ request that the court review a city decision to limit the number of large events businesses can hold each year, an attorney for the city argued Wednesday.

The Bend City Council voted in February to cap the number of permits to three that businesses can receive to host events with more people than would normally fit in their buildings. Century Center, which frequently hosts large concerts, wants the court to use a rarely-utilized legal review mechanism to decide that the council erred.

“It applies to everyone equally,” Assistant City Attorney Ian Leitheiser said in court. “It sets the same limit, to the extent that it is a limit, on everyone.”

Century Center, which houses GoodLife Brewing and Volcanic Theatre Pub, is the only business in Bend that has sought or received more than three permits in recent years.

Many other businesses request one or two a year.

“My client obviously has a substantial interest in whether it can hold these events,” said Megan Burgess, an attorney with the Bend firm Peterkin Burgess, which represented Century Center,

She contends the business has standing in seeking judicial review of the city’s decision because it participated in city discussions about the permit limit and is affected by it. By approving the cap, the City Council intervened in what typically is a decision made by the city’s building division.

“They inserted themselves, whether invited or not,” Burgess said. “A public hearing was held. A resolution was adopted.”

Leitheiser argued the review process sought by Century Center doesn’t apply because the City Council’s decision wasn’t part of a judicial or quasi-­judicial process.

Local governing bodies often act as legislative bodies, passing local ordinances similar to how state legislatures pass statewide laws. But in some cases, such as land use decisions, local governing bodies also act in a judicial way.

In those cases, city councils must follow regulations that include holding public hearings, limiting discussions with councilors outside of those hearings and requiring the council to reach a decision.

The City Council held a public hearing before its vote on the permit limit, but it didn’t have to. Councilors could have chosen to table the discussion at any time, Leitheiser said.

“They had utter discretion,” Leitheiser said. “This was not a case where, once they started, they had to get to a case where they voted ‘yes’ or voted ‘no.’”

Deschutes County Circuit Judge Beth Bagley is considering arguments and will make a decision at a later date.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com