Editor’s note: This article was updated to include comments from Police Chief Carlos Reynoso on the amount of officers that would be needed to provide security for the motorcycle rally and to include the votes. Last updated March 8 at 12:20 p.m.
For the second time since Hollister residents approved Measures T and U to continue to hold the July motorcycle rally, the Hollister City Council’s decision in a 3-2 vote on Mar. 6 to not hold the rally just might be its death knell. Councilmembers Rolan Resendiz and Dolores Morales voted to hold the rally.
As he has done at every meeting the rally was on the agenda, Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said it was not possible to recruit police officers from other cities to provide security for the event, no matter what suggestions council members brought up. The latest suggestion came from Councilmember Tim Burns during the Feb. 21 meeting. He wondered if fencing downtown could be an option. Reynoso was asked to get quotes for the fencing.
Reynoso told the council Mar. 6 that he received a single quote of $15,000. The cost, he said, was minimal compared to the problem of crowd control because the fire department would require exits at every intersection.
“The whole point of having a fenced area is to be able to charge a fee, but more importantly you will be able to search people before they come into the event,” he said. “That creates a problem. Who’s doing the searching?”
Other problems, he said, would be how to designate who would have to pay a fee and how they would prove they paid it. He said when a sticker was used at a past rally that was applied to motorcycle headlights, within a couple of hours counterfeit stickers were being used. He asked if customers of downtown businesses would have to pay to enter the area. Also, he said the fences could be knocked down by unruly crowds.
“It’s not the cost of the fencing,” he said, “but it would essentially double the security personnel you would need to have an event like this. And nothing has changed since the last time we presented a report. Other police departments in the state are still suffering with the same situation that we are: a lack of adequate applicants and people that are willing to be police officers.”
Reynoso put out calls to police departments in 2022 about providing officers for the event but only received three responses; none of them offered officers. Of those responses, two offered drones with pilots.
He told BenitoLink that though police do not disclose numbers from their security plan, city code would require over 200 officers for the rally that is estimated to attract over 10,000 people.
“Just know that we have never been able to get enough personnel to have the event in the past to be in compliance with our own city code,” Reynoso said. “During my time managing the events, we have never had close to 3 digit numbers [of officers].”
Burns suggested several more possibilities, including bringing in private security, changing the dates of the event, moving to another location, or differing ways of paying to get in. Reynoso said using private security would put the city at risk because of unknowns regarding training. He compared the rally to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which he said was not going to take place, not because of security, but because it had become too expensive to run.
“Every single year we have the same conversation and the same result since I’ve been on the council,” Resendiz said. “It’s very disappointing. This is what we’re known for. This is a huge economic development opportunity for our local businesses. It’s really disappointing to be up here when I know this is one of the No. 1 issues that I’m asked about, especially in my district. So much so that we put it on the ballot.”
Measures T and U were nonbinding on the City Council.
Mayor Mia Casey said she didn’t know if past rallies had ever made money.
“To my knowledge, we haven’t ever really adequately figured out if we are making money or if businesses are truly making money off of this,” she said. “The bottom line is the security. If we can’t provide it then we can’t have it, and unless something changes, I don’t see it happening.”
Morales said everyone on the council supports having the rally, but “if we don’t plan it’s not going to happen. If we don’t have security, it’s not going to happen. If we say ‘yes’, the day before the rally it’s not going to happen.”
Related BenitoLink stories:
Despite voters’ support, police shortage makes Hollister biker rally unlikely | BenitoLink
Hollister council moves to seek voter input on biker rally | BenitoLink
Hollister police chief warns of lack of safety if motorcycle rally approved | BenitoLink
After 2020 cancelation, Hollister motorcycle show gets extra large for July 4 weekend | BenitoLink
Local business owners hope to host biker rally | BenitoLink
Hollister Independence Rally 2020 postponed | BenitoLink
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