By Debra Smith
EVERETT — People behind a popular Snohomish motorcycle show plan to give Everett a test run.
The City Council agreed Wednesday to close off several Everett streets for one day so the group can hold its show downtown May 16.
“As a city, we need to be as open and flexible as possible so we can make downtown an attractive place,” Councilman Shannon Affholter said. “This is a great event.”
The Old Snohomish Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show drew as many as 22,000 to the Snohomish riverfront for 12 years.
Organizers canceled the show last year after wrangling with Snohomish police and city officials over how much they’d have to pay for police services. Instead, the Sky Valley Chapter of the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education held a scaled-down classic bike show as part of Shindig, Sultan’s annual street fair in July.
Everett police initially rejected the group’s proposal and took the unusual step of bringing the matter Wednesday to the City Council to sort out.
In a memo to the council, deputy police chief Greg Lineberry wrote that police were concerned about safety because motorcycles and pedestrians would mix on closed-off streets. Police suggested bikers park their motorcycles at a nearby parking garage and along nearby city streets.
The show’s organizers said that wouldn’t work: The event is a social event, where motorcyclists come to mingle and check out each other’s rides — even if they aren’t entered in the official show.
“We find groups of people come to congregate and show off motorcycles,” Brad Watson, the shows chairman, told the council. “A lot of these motorcycles are expensive and you still want people to see your motorcycle.”
The deputy police chief said Everett police had talked with city officials across the country and met with ABATE members multiple times to discuss safety issues, including the one that ended the show in Snohomish.
The City Council voted 5-0 to approve the group’s permit to close streets with the condition that ABATE would find a compromise with police. Two councilmembers, Brenda Stonecipher and Ron Gipson, were absent.
ABATE members said they also collected dozens of signatures from downtown business owners who welcome the show and the dollars it would bring.
In Snohomish, ABATE had paid $5,000 to the city for police officers to staff the event. Last year, Snohomish Police Chief John Turner said they needed to charge up to $30,000 because police agencies who normally donated their services no longer could because of the economy. When ABATE suggested fewer officers, Turner said he didn’t want to skimp on security for an event that draws members of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Everett’s permit requires ABATE to put down a $5,000 refundable cash deposit and to secure a $50,000 bond if the group’s liability insurance doesn’t provide $2 million in coverage.
ABATE also has to pay for 30 off-duty police officers at an average of $52 an hour — that works out to about $12,500. The group might have to pay more, depending on how many people show up.