'Oh by the way, there's a rock concert next door'

Not everyone was happy with the Blue Water Music Festival over the weekend.

[Seven-degrees], which was right next door to the Sawdust event, had a wedding on Saturday and a fundraiser on Sunday. The music was simply too loud, said Executive Director Dora Wexell

"I'm very disappointed," Wexell said. "I don't want to be the bad guy. [Seven-degrees] is very supportive of music. But a rock concert needs a rock-concert venue."

Wexell said the music consistently went above the 70-decibel limit set by the city. She tried throughout the weekend to work with festival organizer Rick Conkey, especially during sensitive times at the wedding, but the result was not good.

As part of the festival's use permit, Conkey agreed to keep the music at reasonable, agreed-upon levels. Most of the acts were acoustic or light instrumental. A few, however, had full bands.

Conkey said he tried to satisfy the requirements, even telling one band, Robert Jon and The Wreck, to stop playing on Saturday night, much to the disappointment of the band and the audience.

"We didn't want to take a chance so we just turned the music off out of respect for next door and out of concern for jeopardizing the music festival," Conkey said. "It was risking the whole thing. [Seven-degrees] had a party. They were outside and they were thinking it was too loud, so we were trying to keep it down a little lower, but they weren't happy."

"I didn't write the ordinance," countered Wexell. "I didn't write the conditions on the use permit."

Her clients were not happy at all, she said.

"I had a client who was screaming at me and my staff all day because she couldn't stand it," Wexell said. "It's a lot to deal with, especially when I've got clients who have paid a lot of money for events that think it's all planned and all ready to go. Then I have to tell them three weeks before their event that, 'Oh by the way, there's a rock concert next door.' They didn't sign up for that."

There was a Laguna Beach police officer who assisted during the dispute, Conkey said, but apparently it wasn't enough.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman attended the event on Saturday and said she believes an agreement can be reached for any future events.

"I suspect a good thing to do is have some kind of noticing between the two of them and work it out so there is not a conflict with the time," she said.

For Wexell, that may mean buying out her venue.

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