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Bike Event Draws Opposition
updated: May 26, 2010, 2:50 PM

By Steve Fox

If you're among the many people wondering about the County's priorities, try this on for size. They've just hired an expensive Orange County law firm to sue a local nonprofit park and shut down a hugely popular, family-friendly mountain bike event that's been running successfully for five years.

"At a time when the county is strapped for money, what on earth is the point of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a last-minute lawsuit to block an event that promotes healthy living, gets kids outdoors and away from the TV set, brings money into the community and benefits a charitable organization that provides recreational opportunities for local families at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer?" said Michael Fauver, President of the Board of Directors for Elings Park, where the two-day mountain bike event is to be held on June 5 and 6.

"It just seems unconscionable that on almost the same day that the County released a budget providing for significant program cuts, and at the same time they were asking County employees to agree to salary and benefit cuts, the County hired a large Orange County law firm to come into Santa Barbara and force a local non-profit to shut down one of its most popular programs." "The annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Festival has drawn thousands of kids - and their parents - into a healthy, wholesome activity that combats the epidemic of obesity, brings families into an affordable sport, and subsidizes hikers, dog walkers and others who use the same trails. The County has allowed this event for the last five years and now they want to stop it. What has happened? We have done nothing different, but 10 days before our 6th Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Festival they file a lawsuit? It's hard to believe there isn't another agenda here."

Elings Park believes the lawsuit is a cynical manipulation by some of the park's wealthy neighbors to use public money to advance their private campaign to end mountain and off-road biking in the park.

"There's a small, elitist group that wants to keep South Elings Park as their private backyard at a time when we're trying to expand recreational opportunities for the entire community - that's what this is really about. We're using the land exactly the way we've always said we would and the same way we've been using it for the past five years. Elings Park is a recreational resource for the entire community that relies completely on charitable donations and volunteers to operate its soccer fields, softball fields, picnic areas and mountain trails. If this elitist group succeeds in shutting down the bicycle festival, what's next?" said Marcia Constance, Chairperson of the Elings Park Board.

Elings Park is asking residents who believe that kids and families should have a safe place to ride and enjoy nature to bring their bikes to a rally at 4pm Thursday May 27th at the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu Streets by the County offices.

"We'd like to hear the County explain why they're closing down youth programs and then turning around and spending money they say they don't have to shut down the bicycle festival," Fauver said. "If you think that's a bad use of taxpayer funds, if you think our kids need more recreational opportunities instead of less, if you think it's time for government to stop meddling with programs that are working, then we'd like you to join us on Thursday and send that message to the Supervisors." For further information, please contact Elings Park Executive Director Steen Hudson at 805.569.5611.


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