Several small changes have been made to plans for the annual Hood to Coast Relay to alleviate concerns raised by locals after last year’s event.
City Manager Mark Winstanley said he didn’t believe the city received “an awful lot of complaints last year” after the event, but a few issues were brought up at a post-event community meeting last September.
The public’s concerns revolved around traffic congestion, illegal parking, the heavy crowd, noise levels, trash and the vendors brought in by the event diminishing patronage to local stores during the weekend.
Some people suggested the city should be reimbursed more for its trouble. Event organizers usually give Seaside a donation of $18,000 as a thank you for hosting the finish party for the Hood to Coast Relay and two corresponding Portland to Coast events, which usually bring in thousands of people. Organizers also reimburse different local agencies, such as the Public Works Department and the Seaside Police Department, for extra duties conducted for the race.
The monetary donation is not set to change this year, nor will the arrangement involving reimbursements.
The city plans to address some of the other concerns, though, with the 33rd annual Hood to Coast Relay on Aug. 22 and 23.
In response to complaints about the noise level while tents and other equipment are taken down after the event, the city will be more restrictive about when clean-up can happen this year.
The city always has required the event to be cleared out Sunday night and gone by Monday morning, Mayor Don Larson said. But the removal created too much noise in the early morning for hotel patrons. This year, the clean up will be cut off at 10 p.m. Aug. 24. The crews can come back in the morning to finish the work.
“Those are the kind of changes we make - just improvements,” Larson said.
Hours of operation for setting up the event also will be more restricted, Police Chief Bob Gross said. In previous years, the crews started setting up on the beach too early in the morning, which also was disruptive, he said.
Fireworks also will be prohibited this year.
Traffic congestion has the greatest negative impact on the city in relation to the event, several sources said. To help with the problem, free shuttle service will again be offered throughout the day. Passengers can be picked up at two locations — North Coast Family Fellowship or Seaside High School — and transported to the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. Parking areas are designated for participating teams.
The shuttle will run every 15 to 30 minutes from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 23. The parking areas will be closed at midnight, and all vehicles must be removed.
“The shuttle has been offered for years, and it is intended to keep as much vehicle traffic away from the beach as possible,” said Dan Floyd, chief operating officer for Hood to Coast.
Gross used to direct traffic at Avenue U for a few hours near the end of event, but it didn’t make much difference.
“There wasn’t anything I could do at Avenue U that could speed the process up,” he said. “... We went back to letting the lights take care of themselves.”
While U.S. Highway 101 gets backed up both northbound and southbound, the traffic is “just something that we work through,” Gross said.
“You can only do so much to alleviate the traffic,” agreed Doug Barker, acting event coordinator with the Seaside Chamber of Commerce.
He said the public’s response to the event varies.
“We have a lot of people who look forward to it ... and then other people who would just rather not see (the event) because it inconveniences them,” he said.
Jeff Ter Har, the co-owner of a regional clothing store, spoke at the community meeting held last year. He said the weekend normally is disadvantageous for retail stores in the area.
Tourists not associated with the race often will avoid the city the weekend of the event, or they simply can’t find accommodations because area lodging is filled by runners and their family and friends, if only for a night, he said.
“It locks down the town on a one-day deal,” he said.
The race often will leave the town dead on the Thursday and Friday before the race and Sunday afterward.
Several vendors are brought in by the event, and they set up on the beach. They sell products marketed specifically for runners, Winstanley said.
Many local stores don’t see much action, Ter Har said, adding the Saturday of the event “might be good.”
“I don’t know that there’s any way to address it,” he said.
Some restaurants do see a lot of revenue from the weekend, operators said at the community meeting last year.