Deschutes County Commissioners this week got more than an earful from Crooked River Drive neighbors who are upset that a large mountain climbing and hiking organization based in Portland seeks to establish an outdoor Bed and Breakfast facility right across the street from Smith Rock State Park. Neighbors told commissioners that areas around the park are quiet, rural neighborhoods that would be disrupted by throngs of climbers congregating at a commercial-like Bed and Breakfast facility year round, complete with noise and visual blight. The blight would be a wall around the compound along with unavoidable noise from climbers coming from all over the country to “party” at Smith Rock.
Neighbor after neighbor urged the commissioners to preserve the quiet scenic ambiance of Smith Rock by not letting it fall prey to what would amount to a commercial hotel-like tourist environment. Even though sleeping facilities would be inside large walk-in tents, neighbors say it would function like a hotel complete with prepared meals, beds, furnishings and evening gatherings – something akin to a luxury climbers’ base camp – all right across Smith Rock Loop from a long established residential neighborhood.
But Mazamas Mountaineering, which promotes mountain and rock climbing in many parts of the U.S. and around the world, claims they can be good neighbors even if they are limited to just two acres at Smith Rock Way and Crooked River Road. Mazamas spokesmen told the commissioners that they should be allowed to more comprehensively promote outdoor events because it helps promote physical fitness and tourism while conserving and protecting America’s magnificent natural environment. Neighbors say they’re worried that if Mazamas gets a foothold in the community, they’ll buy up more land and greatly expand their operations to the detriment of the neighborhood and Smith Rock State Park.
Commissioners said they’ll make a decision on Mazamas’ request in around a month. In the meantime commissioners said they’ll accept more written comments from both sides of the issue until next Wednesday at 5pm. Then rebuttal arguments from Mazamas and the neighbors until 5pm Wednesday the 21st, and then final arguments from Mazamas on the 28th. After that the commissioners will make their ruling.
No matter which way they decide it might eventually end up in court as the neighbors try to defend their quiet rural lifestyle while Mazamas defends their right to promote mountaineering while providing their clients with overnight accommodations close to what brings them to Central Oregon in the first place.