Housing / Land Use

San Benito County Planning Commission approves off-road race

The Lazy Bumb Hare Scramble takes place near Panoche on March 7 and 8.
Photo from Planning Commission agenda packet.
Photo provided by Brian Garrahan.

After discussion of two contradictory county codes on Feb. 19, the San Benito County Planning Commission approved a temporary use permit for a second annual off-road motorcycle race near Panoche.

The Lazy Bumb Hare Scramble is scheduled for March 7-8 on private property. It’s expected to attract about 700 riders.

While the race was approved last year with no issues, county principal planner Taven Brown said staff found two contradictory General Plan policies—one related to off-road recreational vehicle use and the other related to noise—that needed the commissioners’ interpretation. Brown said the issue arose more specifically because the off-road recreational vehicle use policy does not address temporary activities such as annual races.

That policy limits activities to Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area and the closed Clear Creek. But because the Lazy Bumb Hare Scramble is temporary, similar to a pumpkin patch or Christmas tree lot, the Planning Commission determined a noise exemption could be granted. 

Promoter Brian Garrahan, a former racer himself, said he hopes to continue hosting the Lazy Bumb Hare Scramble annually, and that doing so at Hollister Hills was virtually impossible because it is overcrowded and won’t allow more events.

Commissioners raised concern that the race might become a nuisance to neighbors if it were held multiple times a year. Garrahan said that while he hoped to make it a bigger event, he was not looking to do it more than once a year.

Along with new conditions set by the county that Garrahan must meet, he also said there is a no-ride zone on the property that will act as a noise buffer to protect surrounding properties. To ensure public health, Garrahan said he will have an ambulance, search and rescue, health food department and a helicopter pad available at the race.

The Lazy Bumb Hare Scramble brought money into San Benito County last year, Garrahan said. With about 80% of traffic entering the county, he said, visitors stocked up on food and gas before and after the event, as some planned to camp out for the weekend. 

Supporters of the race, including local riders and residents near the track, said the economic impact was more than the 700 riders because they all come with a team, adding that the race attracts families into the county.

“I noticed last year with the race that Tres Pinos had a huge intake of gas,” resident Nicole Gonzalez said. “I’ve never seen that store so busy. He was out of ice the entire weekend. There was constantly a line out the door for stuff like that.”

Don Amador, American Motorcyclist Association director of government affairs, said while he is working on legislation with Congressman Jimmy Panetta to open Clear Creek, private land recreation is becoming important throughout the nation.

“We’re seeing more and more ranch lands, timber lands, wine lands, not just in California but throughout the U.S., looking for ways to provide recreational opportunities and economical benefits,” Amador said.


Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is BenitoLink Co-Editor and Content Manager. He joined BenitoLink as reporter intern and was soon brought on staff as a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. He is a San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily. He is a USC Center for Health Journalism 2020 California Fellow.