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Bike Festival at Elings Park Back on Track for This Weekend

The county drops a temporary restraining order after event organizers agree to certain conditions

After news last week that Santa Barbara County officials had moved to cancel one of the region’s most popular bike events, the county and the event sponsor — the Elings Park Foundation — announced Tuesday that the mountain bike and BMX racing festival is back on for this weekend, June 5-6.

The county said last week that it had filed for a temporary restraining order to block the 2010 Santa Barbara Bicycle Festival, claiming that the event, which draws hundreds of BMX bikers to the park, violated the terms of use in the foundation’s contract.

But the restraining order was dropped, according to a statement from the county released Tuesday. The agreement was filed Thursday morning in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

The festival will be allowed, but with most of the organized activities out of the south part of the park.

“Specifically, the agreement between the county and the Elings Park Foundation prevents staging the bike races in South Elings Park, meaning the races cannot begin or end in the south area of the park,” according to the statement.

It also said sound and beer gardens are prohibited in the south park, and no more than 60 cars can be parked in that area at any given time.

“We are gratified that Elings Park and the county were able to resolve their differences about the 2010 Bicycle Festival and thankful that the many families and bicycling enthusiasts who planned to attend will be able to do so,” Steen Hudson, executive director of Elings Park, said in a news release from the group on Tuesday. “Elings Park recognizes that there are still disagreements between the park and the county in terms of how Elings Park South is used. We remain hopeful that those differences can be resolved through further discussion and compromise. Our goal is — and always has been — to provide wholesome outdoor recreational opportunities to the entire community. We invite everyone to visit Elings Park and see for themselves what a valuable community resource it is.”

County officials said they received complaints last summer from several neighbors of the park, and that they reached out to the Elings Park Foundation to address the noise concerns. A compromise was never reached, however, and a lawsuit was served May 21.

More than a decade ago, the foundation was awarded nearly $500,000 from the county, and as a condition, the south portion of the property was put under a restrictive covenant. Restrictions say that 120 acres of 130 should be dedicated to passive recreation and wildlife habitat, and the remaining 10 acres could be used for passive recreation with written approval from the county.

Passive recreation includes activities such as hiking and horseback riding, and consumes no more than 60 parking spaces, according to the covenant. “Passive recreation shall not include activities such as ball fields, tennis courts, outdoor auditoriums and other activities that require alteration of the natural land,” it reads.

The county’s agreement also states that the foundation must not create any new trails or substantially improve existing trails in the park’s south area. It also must post a $10,000 letter of credit to ensure compliance.

Though the county has withdrawn its temporary restraining order, the lawsuit filed last week will go forward, which asks the foundation to abide by the terms of the covenant regarding passive recreation.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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