Of the many special events in the Columbia-Pacific region, the Hood to Coast Relay is in a category by itself. The traffic it generates inspires many residents to a weekend of self-imposed isolation. Some organizations and businesses profit from the race, while others turn their back on it in frustration.

Tuesday night’s forum on the race will be a useful barometer on how Seasiders and others feel about this annual intrusion. Randy Frank, a Seaside city councilor and proprietor of Norma’s restaurant, has asked for the public session in City Hall.

The question presented by Hood to Coast is the classic systems analysis conundrum of how much traffic a system will bear. Or more precisely, how many visitors are too many?

Hood to Coast differs from other big coastal events such as the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest in that it’s an urban export which the rural area must accommodate. In that sense it is a sort of modern-day colonialism. In this colonial setup, the Hood to Coast’s organizer uses the patience and goodwill of Seasiders and other Clatsop County residents to make a lot of money. Hood to Coast is not a charity. And while it’s true that the race’s organizer makes a donation to the city of Seaside, and while the event is the Seaside Chamber of Commerce’s biggest revenue source, those amounts of money are doubtless a pittance of the race’s profit.

During the 1990s, Long Beach, Wash., said no to being the race’s finish line. Race organizers were put off by Clatsop County’s sanitation demands and went looking for a new home.

Every community has a carrying capacity. Hood to Coast clearly strains Seaside’s, and the race dislocates county residents well beyond Seaside’s city limits.

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