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 nights 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 Normas 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 its 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 Coasts 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 its true that the races organizer makes a donation to the city of Seaside, and while the event is the Seaside Chamber of Commerces biggest revenue source, those amounts of money are doubtless a pittance of the races profit.
During the 1990s, Long Beach, Wash., said no to being the races finish line. Race organizers were put off by Clatsop Countys sanitation demands and went looking for a new home.
Every community has a carrying capacity. Hood to Coast clearly strains Seasides, and the race dislocates county residents well beyond Seasides city limits.