Harvest Century September 22nd

Multnomah County: No more bike racing allowed at Kruger’s Farm

Posted by on July 8th, 2009 at 10:48 am

“Staff finds that the bike races are inconsistent with the code criteria and are not an activity that promotes the sale of farm crops.”
— Multnomah County

Multnomah County’s land use planning department has reached a decision in the permit application for Kruger’s Farm. As we reported back in June, the farm stand has hosted numerous popular bike races in the past but those events were in jeopardy after the County received a complaint that triggered an update to Kruger’s land use permit.

A decision made public today by Multnomah County Planning Director Karen Schilling, states that, “Weddings, bike races, birthday parties, corporate picnics, and group gatherings are not allowed as part of this decision.”

Kruger’s Farm Market sits on an Exclusive Farm Use zone and farm owner Don Kruger has added many activities to the land that are not agricultural in nature. One of those uses that came under scrutiny by the county were bike races.

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Local race promoter Kris Schamp of Portland Racing held his first “Kruger’s Crossing” cyclocross race on the property back in November of 2006. Schamp has held the race each year since then and has also added the “Kruger’s Kermesse” criterium series.

Kruger's Crossing Cyclocross Race

Riders make their way into
the corn maze during a
race in 2006.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Schamp sent a letter to the County in support of Kruger’s application for expanded uses of the property. “I told them it wasn’t just about racing, but about all the things Don is doing to build community,” Schamp said today after hearing about the decision.

Schamp is “very disappointed” in the ruling. “The bike races have been extremely low impact and have proven to be a huge booster for the farm store,” said Schamp, “I don’t understand why the county is not willing to view it as another acceptable promotional activity for Don’s business.”

Schamp is also worried that this ruling, if it goes unchallenged, could set a precedent for other bike races held on private farms; “So maybe it’s a concern that the bike race community needs to elevate.”

“The bike races have been extremely low impact and have proven to be a huge booster for the farm store… I don’t understand why the county is not willing to view it as another acceptable promotional activity for Don’s business.”
— Kris Schamp, bike race promoter

In their decision statement, the County addresses issues 21 “Conditions of Approval” ranging from parking to traffic management to what types of foods can be sold in the market. The bike races are among these conditions.

The County has decided that no fee-based activities will be allowed — except for weekly harvest festivals and the corn maze (not sure why the exception is made for a corn maze, the planner who signed the decision is out of the office until next week).

In his application with the County, Don Kruger said that on the days when a bike race had been held, his business at the farm store increases five-fold (from a typical $800 in sales to $4,000). In the decision, the County says they recognize the increased revenue during bike races, but that:

“Staff finds that the bike races are inconsistent with the code criteria and are not an activity that promotes the sale of farm crops. The farm serves as providing a venue for a bike race event. The primary focus of the event is to host a bike race, and not to promote the farm.”

According to a story in The Oregonian back in June, they County heard overwhelming community support for Kruger’s Farm’s permit application — receiving more than 150 e-mails and letters in support and just two in opposition.

While this decision is a blow to Kruger and to promoter Kris Schamp, it seems like with some tweaks, a bike race could still be amenable with the code. One reader who notified me about the decision, wondered if bike races could still happen if they were not “fee-based”. Another condition listed in the decision states that, “The purpose of special events shall be to promote the sale of farm crops or livestock grown on the farm…”

Can bike races be tweaked to directly promote the farm and can promoters get around the “fee-based” designation? No word yet whether or not Kruger plans to appeal. If he does, he’ll have to pay $250 and will have to decide in the next 14 days. Barring an appeal, the decision is final on July 22, 2009.

— Download the County’s decision here (PDF, 2.4mb)

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46 Comments
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    Caroline July 8, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I frequent this farm throughout the year now, only because I found out about it through the Kermesse races. Before then, I would just cycle by, and buy snacks at the convenience mart on hwy 30.

    How’s that for farm-promotion? Man, this is depressing.

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    Grimm July 8, 2009 at 10:57 am

    This is terrible news and hopefully the city will reconsider. It was a very entertaining venue, especially with pumpkin barrier (cmon, that helps the farm, its like active composting, lol). Having the races out there gets me out to Sauvie twice more per year, last year just to spectate. And I love it with the farm store because right there and buy a bunch of apples and honey sticks. Heck I wish other races would learn from Kruger and offer a fresh produce stand.

    Is there anything the rest of us can do to help the cause? Something proactive rather just flame the city and Kruger’s neighbor.

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    Shawn Small July 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

    “The County has decided that no fee-based activities will be allowed”

    donation based racing? I would donate the same amount!

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    bahueh July 8, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Its worth appealing, if not just to protect Krugers’ interests and curren business model.
    race venues come and go each year..the difficult logistics and permits behind making each race happen is part of the deal that most people don’t fully understand…until stuff like this happens…….
    Hopefully Mr. Kruger can make an appearance here and let us know what he needs or if he’s even interested in appealing.

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    Linda July 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

    This is sad news – I wanted to race this year! I love to go ride at Sauvie Island and enjoyed watching the races at Kruger’s last year.

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    Dave July 8, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Does anyone know what the complaint that triggered this was?

    I’ve never been able to make it out to a race and was really looking forward to doing so this year. Very disappointing.

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    Dawn July 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

    The issue at hand here is property rights and Multnomah County strikes again, limiting what this property owner can do on his own property. He is not alone, many property owners have had this happen to them and until it affects you personally you don’t realize it. There is something we can all do – VOTE!

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    Ryan Van Dusen July 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Wow. Another blow to small business. How about I pay $20 for a piece of corn and with that piece of corn I get to race a Kermese? I’d pay $20 for a piece of corn if it got me racing out there.

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    Boo Boo July 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

    This is tricky, in my opinion. I firmly support our land use planning laws that have protected farm lands so close to urban areas, and thus preventing sprawl. What Kruger’s was doing was moving further away from being a farm and more of a ‘venue’ to hold events. It’s not about Kruger’s in particular, but about upholding the important farmland protections. When does a farm stop being a farm and simply a large land area for any type of activity? Kruger’s may want to focus more on how it can re-establish and strengthen it’s position as a true local farm.

    Think about it from other farmers and residents on Sauvie’s Island. You move out to the ‘country’ and yet each weekend you are inundated with hundreds or thousand of cars with bumper to bumper traffic.

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    mike m July 8, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Cyclecross corn maze race?

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    Rob July 8, 2009 at 11:41 am

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2009/06/is_krugers_sauvie_island_farm.html

    “County officials received more than 150 letters and e-mails supporting Kruger’s efforts to renew his permit, with two in opposition.”

    Ms. Valencia should be asked to explain why those responses in favor of the permit were ignored in the context of her response to Kruger’s permit application, especially when it’s clear that the majority of the responses supported Kruger’s position.

    Thanks for that info Rob. I’ve added it into the story. — Jonathan

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    Brooke Hoyer July 8, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Boo Boo, Last time I was out there (early June to pick strawberries), Don had as many acres under cultivation as ever. He has no plans to sacrifice acreage for special events.

    I have a hard time understanding how getting people to come out to a farm to have a good time — whether that’s a wedding or a bike race — can be bad for farming.

    My uncle is a full time farmer and I’ve spent some time working the soil myself. I think that anything we can do to keep family farms profitable is beneficial.

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    tberks July 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Sounds like continuing to collaborate with Don Kruger and working with the County planner to make this an acceptable ‘farming-focused’ event remains a possibility to keeping this great annual event going. It’s such a great way to connect the larger aims of the local farm movement with those of the bicycle movement. Helping save the planet and invest in community while having fun doing so. Great brainstorming… I would be interested in assisting and seeing if we can make any of these ideas a reality.

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    MDeez July 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Oh, sad day. I would gladly pitch in for the appeal fee. Last year was my first out at Kruger’s, and the farm store was definitely a part of that. Had it not been for the races out at Kruger’s, I’m not sure if I would have ever taken up Cyclocross or met a number of amazing individuals.

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    q`Tzal July 8, 2009 at 11:59 am

    2 counterpoints to work on:
    1) What specifically is legal about a pedestrian corn maze event vs. a bicycle event.
    2) For large periods of time a farm is unused land. During that time the farm owner still pays property taxes. Does the county want to force more small farms out of profitability and off the paying taxes rolls? Allowing farmers secondary revenue streams is not an impediment to farming but another source of tax revenue if the jurisdiction removes cranium from sphincter.

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    Kris Schamp July 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Boo Boo #9:

    Your point about protecting farm land would make sense if Kruger’s Farm was some sort of amusement park with no farming activity to speak of. The reality, however, is that Kruger’s Farm is a year-round “working farm” and a very busy one. If you add up all the events they are hosting, it’s still pretty limited and none of them impede the agricultural activities at the farm. Anyone who has attended these events can attest that they help promote the farm and the market store. In my view, this is an excellent way for farmers to make their business model more sustainable, and as such it’s the best way to protect our open farmlands.

    And if car traffic is the concern, someone should start advocating for the closure of the Sauvie Island public beaches.

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    Evan July 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    There is a pretty simple explanation for this. EFU lands were not intended for this sort of thing, and the code has not caught up with the fact that it can coexist with legitimate farming operations.
    If you look at ORS Chapter 215
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/215.html
    (see 215.283)
    you will see what uses are permitted in farm zones. Bicycle racing is not one of them. However, private parks, playgrounds, hunting and fishing preserves are allowed, as are golf courses.
    There are two possible solutions to this dilemma:
    1) Create a private park.
    2) Petition the legislature for a specific amendment to ORS 215 that allows bicycle racing on EFU lands.
    If there are any other Planners out there with an interest in this, I’d be happy to work with them to create a proposal to take to a bike-friendly legislator for presentation in the next legislative session.
    We may not be able to correct this now, but if we take the proper steps we can correct it.
    -Evan MacKenzie
    City of Pendleton Planner

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    Matt Picio July 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Grimm (#2) – the city has nothing to do with it – this was a county land use board decision, and the county is the responsible jurisdiction. Sauvie’s Island is outside the city of Portland and in unincorporated Multnomah County.

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    steve July 8, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I think this sucks.

    Having said that, those of you seeking loopholes must never have run up against a zoning or permitting issue. This is a full blown bureaucratic nightmare. You can’t rationalize your way out of it, nor will it be responsive to citizen letters, protests, or rallies.

    The only thing possible would be getting some variance issued(not gonna happen) or changing the land use laws(also not gonna happen). I think a new venue is going to be in our racing future.

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    Joe Adamski July 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    If a Walmart was slated for your neighborhood, undoubtedly you would be opposed, in part owing to the increased traffic it would generate, and the fact your local streets cannot safely support that traffic, along with livibility concerns of the neighbors. Krugers,current agricultural use notwithstanding, are bringing in much more traffic and inconvenience to neighboring farms. The added traffic of these other uses cost their neighbors time,money and sacrifice their livibility. Perhaps its unfortunate for Kruger and their customers,but just because you support that use does not make it right. Using landuse rules to reach that resolution is no different than a neighborhood opposing a Walmart. It’s just that the shoe is on the other foot….

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    Hannah M July 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I am so saddened by this. The bike races brought me up to Sauvie’s Island when I would have never gone up there other wise. After every race I bought my weekly produce from the farm. If encouraging people to visit farms with events isn’t promoting farm support I don’t know what will! I appreciate all of the community involvement and positive and fun events that Kruger’s Farm has created, we will all be at loss with out them. I love that farm, I hope they appeal!!!

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    Dawn July 8, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    “For large periods of time a farm is unused land. During that time the farm owner still pays property taxes.”

    Actually, “farms” in Oregon pay very low taxes due to tax deferral, Krugers included. We are losing lots of tax revenue because of EFU zoned land that can’t or isn’t being “farmed” but the owners still qualify for tax deferral because of the EFU zoning.

    The reality here is that there needs to be a balance between the extremes. It isn’t just about bike races. There is no quick fix, we need to change the laws and we need county commissioners that support doing what is fair.

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    Grimm July 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Matt, youre right, my bad. I was insinuating ‘city’ more as the body governing the land in my mind, I do realize it is out of the bounds of Portland proper.

    Is it only me who thinks it odd they will allow the corn maze but not bicycle or wedding events? I only went to the corn maze once and it had a slew of vehicles and families, possibly more than any 1 day bicycle race or wedding (well at least small to medium sized weddings, maybe not extravaganza sized ones).

    I think Kruger making his farm a multi-use venue has increased their business and viability, and they seem to care about it being a functional farm over anything else. It seems like managing the excess traffic and parking for the sake of the others who live on Sauvie to maintain their rural lifestyle is the only thing the extra events dont appease.

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    She July 8, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Can we get we get some planners and attorneys to help with an appeal if Farmer Don want to appeal?

    I for one would contribute $$ to the fund to raise money for the appeal process.

    I would guess that it is not only about the $250 but we could offer to help!

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    Ethan July 8, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Corn mazes do not sell corn (at all). They only allowed that because other farms have them too. Talk about inconsistent.

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    chad July 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I love Sauvie Island and go there often with my family and just cannot buy the “too much bumper to bumper traffic argument”.

    I don’t know if arrived at some strange hour to the bike race last year, but I witnessed virtually no traffic issues.

    It would be different if Kruger Farm was deeper into the island, but if memory serves me, Kruger’s is less than two miles from the (new) bridge and traffic doesn’t pass by more than one or two residences before arriving at the farm.

    I’m against “high traffic” just as much as the next person, but let’s choose our words to more carefully reflect the situation on the day in question.

    Just because you had to wait in line for the parking attendant to show you where to park does not make for “high traffic”.

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    Sarah July 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    BOOOOOO! I’d pay the $250 for the appeal! I love Kruger Farm and I certainly see that there are a lot of people munching and buying things from there when I’m out there for races. What about the Pumpkin Patch and the Flat Half? Or is that ok because it donates money to the fire department?

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    Anonymous July 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    This news is a great disappointment. If traffic is permissible for Halloween corn mazes and other seasonal events, one would think that cycling events would only add to the richness and recreation-related enjoyment that shapes our city’s culture. Furthermore, with the state and city economic development and travel groups citing our bike culture as a boon while cultivating a stronger national and global position, I’d think that such positive, well-organized and overwhelmingly popular events would be supported rather than slashed due to isolated dissonance. Great job, Kris and supporters. I’m confident that the right thing will work out, one way or another!

    Erin Greeson

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    Jeff TB July 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Joe Adamski,

    I would oppose a Walmart in my neighborhood. I would also oppose one on Sauvie Island, so I don’t get your point.

    Also, the farm IS the selling point for these events and the events help sell the farm. People I know who got married at Krugers did so becuase of the pastoral setting. You can’t get that without the farm. Where else do you go to get married on a farm except a farm? These events then result in people becoming aware of the farm and return. As Caroline mentioned above: She didn’t know about Krugers before the kermesse series. Now she frequents the place.

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    Mierda Bici July 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    The zoning laws exist for a reason. Over and over again we commend ourselves on the livability of Portland because of these laws. We can’t get uptight when someone breaks these laws, just because we like the venue. These laws exist to protect farming against a lot of things a lot worse then a bike race. Would we be complaining if it was a tractor pull being shut down? Somebody would…

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    Lady Cool July 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    This is why this country sucks.

    Everything designed to screw over citizens.

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    Joe Adamski July 8, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Jeff TB.. my point is land use law needs to be consistently applied. Non farm uses on ag zoned land create added burden on the ability to farm neighboring properties. Were I to own adjacent property and found myself inconvenieced by large crowds of event goers, to where it hindered my ability to go about my daily activities, I probably would use existing land use laws to mitigate it. Sauvie Island is already a popular destination for Portlanders,crowding roadways with many additional users beyond current road capacity. Ignoring land use laws for farms,which restrict other uses,simply because its a popular destination only weakens land use managment. There are inconsistancies,to be sure. That corn mazes and private campgrounds are allowed under farm use,but cyclocross racing and music fests aren’t might need to be addressed legislatively. However, the current regs are the ones being applied, not ‘should be’ ones.

    I value land use here in Oregon, as it prevents much of the sprawl the rest of the Country endures. Weakening it with case by case exceptions is a slippery slope I don’t care to see Oregon fall down.

    I just don’t feel too much pain about Krugers. Another venue will undoubtedly be found, under zoning that allows it.

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    Kris Schamp July 8, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    A quick update…

    I got off the phone with Don Kruger and obviously, he is very pleased with the strong support he is receiving from the bike community (here and through email) and he told me they are looking at some other legal routes – outside the appeal process for the farm stand permit – to continue to host bike races at the farm.

    One thing Don asked me to relay to everyone is for individuals to NOT file an appeal to this ruling, as it might interfere with the other route he and his lawyer are exploring. If in the end an appeal of the ruling turns out to be their best option, they will certainly do so.

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    Kris Schamp July 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Joe Adamski (#32): “That corn mazes and private campgrounds are allowed under farm use,but cyclocross racing and music fests aren’t might need to be addressed legislatively. However, the current regs are the ones being applied, not ‘should be’ ones.”

    As far as I understand, none of these specific activities are being listed in the applicable land use legislation. When I read the ruling, it looks like the county has a lot of discretion in declaring some activities “acceptable” and other ones not.

    Most folks here do not dispute the validity of virtue of land use laws. Neither does Don Kruger. We just wished that the county would recognize bike races as a promotional activity that is acceptable under the current land use regulations. There are several bike races held at other private venues with land use restrictions, so it’s really a gray area.

    The really slippery slope that many of us see here is the disappearance of very unique bike race venues (somewhat similar to the disappearance of cyclocross venues close to Portland).

    And no, it is not true that another venue will undoubtedly be found. Kruger’s Farm is very unique in many ways. You can’t stage a bike race at just any farm, even if the local land use regulations allow it.

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    nepo July 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Any ideas of what county official I should write to to express my opinion of the decision?

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    Rol July 8, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I can sympathize with the neighbors who don’t like the traffic and so forth, but I wonder how many of them are just jealous THEY didn’t think of it and/or wish they could get a piece of the pie!

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    Andrew Holtz July 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    As much as I want to promote bike events… the urban growth boundary and exclusive farm use laws and regulations are a big part of what keeps Portland compact and thus better for cycling.

    Also, while someone may be able to figure out grounds for an appeal or another strategy, we have to remember that the county staff was just interpreting state law.

    As the Pendleton planner, Evan MacKenzie, noted (#17), if you want to change the system… talk to your state legislator. However, be careful; there are a lot of people who want to crush Oregon land use laws. I’d never want to see an effort to promote bike races to be used to instead promote urban sprawl.

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    mark July 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Would folks feel differently if the proposed use was “motocross” and the county prohibited it?

    There are constant threats, most much larger than this, to weakening of land use laws in Oregon. Remember Measure 37? Though I have not attended the cyclocross races, my bet is that they have mostly a salubrious effect on Kruger’s operation and his customers. But, it is easy to understand the ruling.

    I agree with Evan in Pendleton that laws have not caught up with current practices and that EFU regulations are probably more at home on farm operations far from city boundaries. What works on Sauvie Island, just ten miles from Portland, is not nearly the same as what works in Sherman County. I also believe that Evan is suggesting the right approach, a state-wide change rather than an exception for one farm.

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    Nick July 8, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    I’m glad folks are seeing both sides here. I loved racing at Kruger’s and appreciate the owners for offering up their space for races. I would love to go race there again.

    That in mind, the island is a unique piece of rural Oregon only minutes from Downtown Portland. That is an amazing thing for this world we live in. I would more than be willing to sacrifice a race to keep this and the the Metro Urban Growth Boundary rules in tact.

    I only feel that the race doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone or preventing any cultivation of the land. If anything, they are hosting a big party and inviting everyone. It just so happens that OBRA is organizing it, and thus charges folks for the privilege.

    It also stinks a bit that the other farms in the area, make no problem offering up their fields for rows of parking to pick pumpkins planted in their fields from big trucks in the night–lets be real, they only grow about 5% of the pumpkins they sell.

    The double standard here really stinks.

    ~n

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    Jeff TB July 8, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I’m with Sarah,

    The Pumkin Patch just hosted a full and half marathon over the Forth of July weekend. Not sure how that is closer to farming than holding a farm wedding.

    And Joe Adamski,

    If you lived on Sauvie, you would be frequently “inconvenienced” by other users of the county roads. You would live on an Island that included a popular wildlife area, a popular beach a winery and numerous u-pick farms. And all this close to an urban area. Its a popular place.

    I agree that land use laws are important and have benefitted the metro area as a whole. I wouldn’t change that. But as Kris mentioned, this appears to be a grey area. The county could have agreed to these requested events (or some subset). And again, the Pumkin Patch hosting a Marathon seems at odds with the countys ruling.

    Really, it just seems like sour grapes from a neighbor. And that’s too bad.

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    Residentevil July 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Some lonely party pooper without a life had to complain about the bike racing. Let’s put a complaint in about them.

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    JeffW July 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Ok, so the bike races just need to promote the farm crops. We might as well make the races uniquely Portland then too. How about a “Bakfiets Berry Blitz” (hmm, kinda sounds like something at Jamba Juice)? It’s a team event with 1 rider and 1 passenger/gatherer. The scoring takes into account both speed around the course and quantity of berries picked. Prizes could include a fraction of your haul. The rest are “sold” to the audience as the event-fee.
    Later in the season a similar event could be the “Hardtail Harvest.” Equipped with a hardtail and a messenger bag, you race through the corn field and fill the bag with ears, emptying at each lap.

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    RMH July 9, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Again, as mark #38 asks: “Would folks feel differently if the proposed use was “motocross” and the county prohibited it?” Please, would someone answer this question. The motocross racers out there might just want to run their own races on Sauvie Island (or some other near urban yet rural oasis that we all treasure). Then how would you who would feel about that? It seems we want our cycling related activities to be sanctioned, but would chafe at the prospect of someone elses chosen activities being allowed. Yes, there is a double standard here and it has little to do with “unfair” land use laws.

    Ron

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    revphil July 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    free racing!

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    Donna July 9, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    This is disturbing both from a property rights perspective and due to the reality that these small, local farms find it difficult to impossible to stay in business without this sort of side income.

    If these local farms go belly up, it’s going to mean less state income tax collected. And of course, that means more state budget cuts.

    Is that want we really want to see in this economy?

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    Nate July 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    It seems everyone thinks this is a bike issue – obviously it’s not – as weddings were equally banned – WTF? In either case, that should answer RMH’s question about motor cross – if it became a significant part of the farm revenue, then it too would be banned. I actually think this is a result of a couple of whiner neighbor farms who didn’t have the ingenuity to think of creative ways to market their farms – and now they want to take down something that’s successful.

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