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Donna Hoekstra

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July 12, 2014
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Economic impact of proposed outdoor event ordinance is real

A bride wanting to get married on the beach would not pursue Nevada County to host her wedding, just as bride wanting her wedding outdoors, in a vineyard, by a pond or a barn wouldn’t consider an indoor ball room or outdoor patio in the middle of a parking lot as an alternative site.

It all starts with the venue. Couples go to where the beautiful venues are. Fewer venues mean fewer weddings; and the local economy suffers.

I am the spokesperson for a group of individuals who have serious concerns about the proposed outdoor event ordinance. We understand that outdoor events need to minimize the impact on neighborhoods and not create safety or other hazards, but the ordinance proposed will have a devastating impact on many Nevada County businesses. In seeking to regulate the very few local event locations that are causing the problems, the County through this ordinance will destroy legitimate businesses that operate prudently, businesses that exist with the strong support of their neighbors.

We feel a noise ordinance would be more equitable and address the concerns the Sheriff has with enforcing any property producing excessive noise. The County already has the tools needed to “shut” down properties that have multiple complaints and not adhering to “Good Neighbor” policies.

If the Outdoor Event Ordinance is passed as it is currently written, it will become unlawful to hold a wedding or event for any profit on private property without the Sheriffs approval. The penalty will be considered a misdemeanor & punishable by jail and /or a 5,000 fine which will also be enforced by the Sheriff’s department.

The economic impact of the proposed ordinance will be devastating. We obtained the following data through a telephone survey of all known wedding venues in western Nevada County. Our findings are consistent with the data found on TheWeddingReport.com which estimates an average of 500 weddings a year with a market value of 14 million in direct spending on weddings in Nevada County. The response rate from our survey was from approximately 50% of our venues. The figures below represent half of the estimated income received throughout our economy from weddings:

— Over 80 percent of county weddings are out-of-town visitors

— 300 weddings a year; 100 guests each on average

— $30,000 direct spending on the wedding

— $300 each guests hospitality spending (two nights lodging plus six meals), total $30,000 per wedding

— That is $60,000 per wedding spent, spread among wedding venues, vendors, hotels & restaurants etc.

— 300 weddings at $18 million represent half of the estimated local wedding market and outdoor events; multiplied four times (very conservative) tourist dollars input, that is $72 million, a conservative estimate of the contribution of the wedding business activity to our local economy.

— 30-50 percent of these weddings are conducted at venues that do not currently require any sort of permit. It is estimated that if permits become required as is in the ordinance, our local economy will suffer a loss between $15-30 million in activity.

Nevada County Weddings (NCWeds.com) is a large group of wedding and event related venues and vendors that live and do business in Nevada County. We do not work out of one building in a commercial district; most of us are entrepreneurs who work out of our homes or smaller retail locations downtown. Alone, the loss of business each of us will suffer will affect our ability to spend and possibly determine if living in the county is possible. Together the accumulation of our losses will have a substantial negative economic impact. The money we earn is regenerated throughout our local economy!

We are not of group of renegade bootlegger’s or an underground industry. We are your neighbors, mothers & fathers, grandparents, friends. We are honest, hard workers making a living and feeling very blessed to be doing what we love. Weddings are magical and our community has been blessed with the economic windfall that has come from so many couples choosing Nevada County as the host for their weddings.

As seen in the figures above, over half of the monies generated by wedding go directly into our local tourism economy through lodging, meals, shopping and other guest expenditures.

We are asking for your support in contacting our Board of Supervisors to reconsider the ordinance. Please also consider contacting your community leaders, government, chambers of commerce and business associates and tell them of your concerns and how this ordinance will affect our local economy.

Together we can make a difference.

Donna Hoekstra is founder of Joy of Life Events and a member of Nevada County Weds (www.ncweds.com).

We understand that outdoor events need to minimize the impact on neighborhoods and not create safety or other hazards, but the ordinance proposed will have a devastating impact on many Nevada County businesses.

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The Union Updated Jul 12, 2014 10:39AM Published Jul 15, 2014 03:33PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.