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News / Clark County News

There’s hope for Vancouver cruise-in, possibly under new name

By Lauren Dake, Columbian Political Writer
Published: June 15, 2017, 11:12am

It might have a new name, but it looks likely the annual classic-car show known as Cruisin’ the Gut in downtown Vancouver will go on.

Bryan Shull, with Trap Door Brewing, said he’s working with a group of Main Street business owners hoping to host the mid-July car cruise.

“We know the cruise is going to happen with or without official management and the result of 20,000 people on Main Street (the estimated size of the event) with no garbage collection, portable bathrooms, traffic control measures, and coordinated police presence, would be quite frankly horrific,” Shull wrote in an email. “The potential damage to businesses and the reputation of our burgeoning Main Street economy was deemed unacceptable. Our response is to try to supply the necessary infrastructure to secure a safe and entertaining day of cruising Main Street Vancouver. We have (three) weeks to do this.”

Phil Medina, who has organized the event since 2009, told city officials he wouldn’t be sponsoring it this year.

The city and Medina have differing perspectives on why the relationship disintegrated.

Julie Hannon, director of Vancouver Parks and Recreation, said the city met several times with Medina and offered the same terms involved in last year’s contract, including paying for half of the police costs up to $8,000, along with helping him apply for lodging tax funding to offset other costs and subsidizing the price of portable toilets.

“We said, ‘Here’s what we can do, the same thing as last year,’ and he decided not to do the event this year … He doesn’t want to fill out the permit and he didn’t want to get the insurance,” Hannon said, adding insurance costs about $1,500.

Medina said the city was requiring inappropriate liability insurance. In a statement, Medina said, “cost is not the concern” but that he’s worried the event is not adequately insured.

“The city of Vancouver is requiring the wrong type of liability insurance and therefore the event is not insured properly,” Medina said in a statement.

Hannon said the city reviewed the language and the requirements of the insurance it is requiring and it believes it’s the most appropriate policy.

“Mr. Medina has purchased coverage for his event that we’ve required since 2009 and the coverage is available. It’s a disagreement whether it’s necessary and we believe it’s necessary,” Hannon said.

Medina said the city wouldn’t meet with him to evaluate the insurance and discuss the details.

Medina also said he also was concerned about the cost to pay for the police presence. He said the city puts him on the hook to pay an undisclosed amount that continues to grow over the years. On May 5, he said he told the city he wouldn’t be willing to file for a permit for this year’s Cruisin’ the Gut “unless the city would look at taking on 100 percent of the police services as they did for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 events and evaluate the extra insurance requirement to ensure the event is properly insured.”

The city is one of the major beneficiaries of the event, he added, and should consider playing a larger sponsor role.

Hannon countered the claim and said the city benefits very little financially.

“Most of the (sales tax) collected goes to the state. For example, if there’s a $50,000 increase in taxable sales in local businesses, the city only receives $420 of that … So, the city believes this is an important community event, but it’s not a fundraiser or money-maker for the city as an organizer.”

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Under consideration

Michelle Brinning, with the Uptown Village Association, said several things need to happen for the association to take ownership of the event. Shull, with Trap Door Brewing, asked Brinning about possible sponsorship and involvement in the event. For the association to sponsor the event, Brinning wrote in an email, the board would need unanimous consent from members who have paid their dues. They would also need detailed estimates of costs, volunteers and proof of financial responsibility by the organizers, among others.

“We would be interested in taking over the event next year if we could get enough members interested in forming a committee to take this project on and put in the time to make this event a success,” Brinning wrote in an email.

This year, she proposed helping with social media shares, providing volunteers and donating $200.

‘Skin in the game’

Mayor Tim Leavitt, who also met with Medina and Uptown Village business owners, said the event has grown so much it’s difficult for one person to host and coordinate.

“What was clear to me was everyone wants the event to continue but there was a bit more organization event support needed to raise sponsorships and community financial support to cover the costs,” Leavitt said.

The mayor remains optimistic the old cars will still be cruising this summer.

“Hopefully, (this is) encouraging people who support the event to put some skin in the game and contribute so the event can continue,” Leavitt said.

Hannon recently wrote in a memo to staff the city is committed to supporting the 2017 cruising event, despite the uncertainty over a sponsor.

“Once it is known if there will be a new cruise event, I will most certainly work with all parties to provide a communication update,” Hannon wrote in the memo. “Unfortunately, we do not have a confirmed outcome at this time.”

Columbian Political Writer