Howling Wolf may be on its way out

Port Orchard businessman Ron Rice wants permission from the city to again host rock concerts in his Sedgwick Road amphitheater, but it appears he may have run out of second chances.

Rice appeared before the Port Orchard City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday evening to gauge whether the council was likely to award him another temporary-use permit so he can hold concerts at Howling Wolf Amphitheater this summer.

Rice’s last permit request was denied last summer because of an incident involving highly amplified profanity being broadcast over a large portion of South Kitsap.

Rice said he plans to impose a new, no-tolerance policy with regard to profanity and asked the committee whether that would be enough to reassure the council that Howling Wolf had been toned down.

Most committee members’ answers left little room for interpretation.

“I just don’t see enough change,” said committee member Councilman Rick Wyatt, who said he’d gotten “hundreds” of phone calls about the profanity incident. “Everybody has rights. You have rights, you own the land. But these people have rights, too.”

The primary concern among the committee members was protecting the rights of those living and working around Howling Wolf not to hear the music if they didn’t want to.

Councilwoman Rita DiIenno, sitting in for Ron Rider on the committee, suggested writing mandatory maximum wattages for amplifiers into the permit.

Councilman Todd Cramer, who chairs the committee, asked Rice why he never just “pulled the plug” during previous violations — thereby cutting off the amplifiers and preventing the sound from traveling beyond the amphitheater property.

“Zero tolerance means the first time there’s an offense — it’s done,” Cramer said.

Rice said although it would sound good to promise he would have complete control over the promoters and bands, such control is impossible to maintain.

He proposed a two-strikes program that meant the first band to use profanity would be kicked off the stage without pay and any infraction afterward would shut down the entire event altogether.

“I can’t say I’ll have 100 percent control,” Rice said. “All I can say is I can make it painful for the promoter if he doesn’t toe the line.”

DiIenno pointed out it would be impossible for the committee to make a formal recommendation to the full council until Rice drafted up a permit application.

However, all three committee members repeatedly told Rice that — at least in their opinion — Howling Wolf sounded like a 600-pound gorilla that was really more trouble for Rice than it was worth.

Even Rice, at one point, said he would quit the business altogether were it not for the responsibility he felt toward those who helped him start the venue.

“Promoters come and go,” Wyatt said. “You’re a landmark here ... and you’re putting it all on the line for what?”

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