The city of Seaside and Hood to Coast reached an agreement Monday night to continue their 25-year relationship. Seaside is the final leg of the 197-mile relay, which originates in Mount Hood and draws up to 20,000 visitors to Seaside each year. The council unanimously voted to grant Hood to Coast permission to be held the weekend before Labor Day for two more years.
“We’re really, really excited,” said a visibly relieved Hood to Coast Chief Operating Officer Dan Floyd after the meeting. “Seaside is such a big part of this race. We’re pumped. We’re going to be back next year.”
Change of date sought
The rapprochement occurred only a few weeks after business owners presented a petition seeking a date change for the event.
“Although the Seaside Chamber of Commerce and many of the area’s lodging facilities benefit financially, many of us year-round business owners feel that the overall impact of hosting this massive event during the busy summer tourist season is negative,” 74 business owners wrote in a letter delivered to the council at a workshop in September.
That number reached 87 signatures by Monday’s meeting.
During the first Hood to Coast workshop, audience members complained about rude behavior by runners, “arrogant” organizers and vendors who tapped into private power supplies. With the beach closed off at this year’s race because of high winds and stormy weather, runners filled the streets and blocked store entrances, business owners said.
“I’m not trying to get rid of the event,” Councilor Randy Frank said at the first workshop. “I just think that they need to consider changing when they have it. It’s just too big of a burden on our town and resources at that time of the year.”
At the city’s second workshop, complaints multiplied and more names added to the petition. But by the end of the meeting it became clear organizers could not accommodate a date change.
Only a week later, councilors were unanimous in their support of granting a permit for the race for two more years.
“There was never an issue, as far as I know, about Hood to Coast going away,” Randy Frank said. “The only issue was, would they change their date, and after all these meetings, it came down to ‘no, we’re not interesed in changing that date.’ That’s why I’m voting we continue with Hood to Coast.”
Frank shared his thanks with those who had attended meetings and workshops leading up to the vote Monday night. “It was a great time for the process, for businesses and private individuals to be heard,” he said.
Before adding his affirmative vote, Councilor Seth Morrisey asked for ways to involve more businesses and retailers on the beach, with the addition of local food vendors. “I’d also like Hood to Coast pay more money to come to Seaside, and I’d like to see that money earmarked in ways that citizens of Seaside can actually see,” he said.
“The thought of disinviting 20,000 visitors just doesn’t make logical sense to me,” Councilor Jay Barber said. “I do not want to see Hood to Coast leave Seaside, and I believe reasonable people sitting down together in a collaborative way can make this work all the way around the route to benefit from the event.”
Barber added a motion calling for formation of a collaboration committee, with members to be appointed by the mayor. The committee would include the city, not-for-profits, the Seaside Downtown Development Association, Seaside Chamber of Commerce and representatives of organizations who benefit from the race. The group would meet with “representatives of Hood to Coast to discuss changes that may be needed to be made at the end of the two-year contract, including date and potential compensation for the city and other potential beneficiaries.”
This motion was also unanimously endorsed by the council.
After the meeting, Hood to Coast’s Floyd presented a check to Mayor Don Larson on behalf of Seaside Parks and Recreation Department, proceeds from this year’s race.
“We’re humbled by this discussion,” Floyd said. “We appreciate what’s happening here in Seaside. We look forward to being here next year, and we thank you for your support.”