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VENTURA : Live Music at Bakery Ended After Protests

A popular Ventura bakery that offers improvisational theater, poetry readings and music has canceled its live music after neighbors complained.

Ventura officials told the owners of City Bakery they had to apply for a permit under city law after neighbors complained about noise and parking. The crowds that gather outside the building when weekend performances end at 10 p.m. are too disruptive, City Planner Ann Chaney said.

Bakery co-owner George Keenen said he will not apply for the $350 permit, but canceled the music in an attempt to reduce noise. He said the bakery’s theater and poetry will continue.

Keenen ran afoul of the law in the spring because musicians in his East Main Street coffeehouse were playing other people’s copyrighted songs. Now he needs a permit because they and their fans cause too much noise.

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“I decided I didn’t want the permit because it seemed like the city was selling the neighbors down the river--like it’s OK to be disruptive if we have a permit,” Keenen said. “I also felt the city would have too much control over us.”

Chaney said the permit is required for businesses and activities that involve assemblies of people such as churches, theaters and day-care centers. She said the permit allows the city to regulate businesses’ hours of operation.

“It’s hard to say what will happen now because we know the activity is going on and they don’t have a permit,” Chaney said. “We want to work with them because the entertainment is a real good use, whether that means having them purchase the permit, or maybe having them relocate where there’s better parking.”

Keenen said profits from the performances are too small to make buying the permit feasible, with most of the money from ticket sales going to the performers.

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