March 22

Hempfest and city settle lawsuit over 2011 permits



The City of Seattle and the organizers of the annual cannabis festival and reform rally Hempfest have reached a resolution regarding a dispute over permitting for the 2011 festival.

In February Hempfest organizers filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn, the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, the director of Seattle Center, and the chairperson of the Seattle Special Events Committee, claiming that the city was unlawfully delaying the permitting process and scheduling a conflicting construction project that would prevent the festival from taking place at its usual site at Myrtle Edwards Park, or the proposed alternative location, the Seattle Center.

Festival goers gather at the booth-lined Myrtle Edwards Park at Hempfest 2009.

In a statement released today city officials announced that the two parties have reached a collegial agreement, which will bring Hempfast, which draws some 100,000 people to the waterfront festival annually, back to Myrtle Edwards Park for its 20th anniversary this summer. From the press release:

Under the March 18 agreement, the City will issue a permit for Hempfest 2011 to occur at the waterfront park on Aug.  19, 20 and 21, subject to the conditions placed on the permit by the City’s Special Events Committee. In turn, Seattle Events, which puts on the festival, will dismiss the pending lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Planned construction of the Thomas Street Overpass project in Myrtle Edwards Park this summer created a potential conflict with the festival, prompting Hempfest to file a lawsuit. The City and Hempfest quickly reached a compromise where Hempfest agreed to postpone its request for immediate relief from the Court and the City agreed to solicit alternative bids for the project that would allow Hempfest to be held in the park. When the bids were announced on March 16, it was clear that the construction timetable would not interfere with the festival. The City and Hempfest then entered into a memorandum of understanding that will allow the festival to proceed at Myrtle Edwards Park in August 2011.

City Attorney Pete Holmes noted his appreciation that Hempfest organizers agreed to put the litigation on hold while the City worked on a solution for the scheduling conflict.

For more information on the lawsuit, see our past coverage here.  For more information on the West Thomas Overpass Project, click here.


cannabis festival and reform rally, City of Seattle, events, Hempfest, lawsuit, Mayor Mike McGinn, Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle Center, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Special Events Committee

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