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Couple Who Gave ‘Intimate’ Home Concerts Fights City Hall Over Bach Taxes

February 1, 1992

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ The ads for ″intimate″ concerts brought the vice cops to Bill and Pamela Resch’s home, but the only things she was tickling were the ivories. The city shut her down anyway and is seeking Bach taxes.

″This is crazy,″ the classical concert pianist said Friday. ″If the city went after everybody who was teaching and playing piano in their home we’d have a lot of little old ladies out there who are criminals.″

But it’s hard to fight City Hall, especially if you turn your home into an occasional Concert Hall with a 1906 Steinway grand piano in the parlor. And if you run ads touting $25 ″intimate, romantic experiences with music.″

″No one’s interested in giving them a hard time, but what they were doing wasn’t allowed,″ Assistant City Manager Regina Williams said. ″Unfortunately, we’re stuck in the role of playing the Big Bad City.″

Indeed, the city has been attacked as a musical killjoy by local columnists, editorial writers and conservative columnist William F. Buckley, who has attended one of the Resches’ musical evenings.

″If San Jose can’t figure out a way to permit an artist to play the piano at night for paying guests, maybe the good old USA just doesn’t have it any longer, to make jobs-jobs-jobs-jobs, and let us all be free and affluent, and proud,″ Buckley wrote.

The city struck its first sour note in the case six months ago.

In July, after vice officers went undercover at one of the couple’s 12 to 14 annual ″salon concerts,″ Resch was arrested and fingerprinted in his white tie and tails in front of his wife and several paying guests.

″I don’t know why they didn’t arrest Pamela, too,″ scoffed the couple’s attorney, Michael Hurley. ″I guess they thought Bill was the brains behind the scheme, or maybe they thought they had a conspiracy going.″

Thus began what might be called Interlude in Red Tape.

San Jose officials said the Resches were operating an illegal business by charging people $25 each for a two-hour concert in their antique-filled English cottage. The neighborhood isn’t zoned for commercial enterprises.

Then, the city said the couple owed back taxes, plus interest and penalties to the tune of $1,125 for the three years they held the concerts, which attracted 20 to 30 guests each time, but no complaints.

The bill was due Friday, but the city gave the couple a reprieve. On Monday, the Resches will meet with tax officials to plead their case again.

City Councilman David Pandori, who represents the downtown area where the Resches live, failed to persuade his peers to approve a resolution to give the couple an exemption so they could hold home concerts.

″What bothers me is we’ve got all these problems in the city and we’re wasting time trying to stop something that nobody complained about in the first place,″ Pandori said.

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