Daily Sun News Editorial

Yakima County should embrace hillclimb venue

Zoning, permitting rules need to be altered

Over the years, only a handful of things have put Sunnyside on the national map.

There’s the annual Cinco de Mayo festival, the annual Lighted Farm Implement Parade and, now, the Northwest Nitro Nationals Pro Hillclimb at Dry Creek Recreation.

But county planning zoning and permitting rules are threatening the Pacific Northwest’s premier hillclimb racing event. As a result, organizers could use help in urging Yakima County to approve a needed zoning change and lessen the stranglehold of unnecessary permitting regulations.

Over the last five years, the race has grown into the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and one of the largest tourism generators for the Sunnyside area. Thousands of people visit the venue every May to take in the fast-paced action of methane- and nitrous-oxide-powered motorcycles climbing the course on Rattlesnake Ridge in 20 or so seconds.

The success of the event and the local support has prompted venue operators and promoters to try to bring an additional race here this year. They are also pushing to restart the popular Pirate Plunder obstacle course event, which was pushed out of Yakima and could land here.

But those events may only land here if Yakima County is willing to reduce unnecessary regulations and rezone the property.

Those are reasonable requests given the venue’s location at the intersection of state Highways 241 and 24 north of Sunnyside.

There are few venues in Eastern Washington that offer off-road racing activities. There are few venues that can contain an event like Pirate Plunder successfully, while minimizing management concerns. Dry Creek Recreation is one of those precious few venues.

Local businesses supply food, water, portable toilets and more. Local hotels and bed and breakfasts offer places to stay. And local restaurants feed hungry racers and their fans and families. In return, racers supply a much-needed economic boost for local businesses.

The county can only gain from more successful ventures there. It should take all reasonable action to help the venue grow, rather than hinder it.


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