An entire racing season will have come and gone before Alameda County decides what it wants to do with Altamont Motorsports Park.
On Thursday, Alameda County’s East County Board of Zoning voted to issue a two-month continuance on Altamont’s pending application for a conditional use permit (CUP). The decision came on county staff’s recommendation.
County officials have ruled that Altamont can continue to host races while the application is pending. During the application process, Altamont is subject to the rules and limitations under the 1996 CUP, which expired in February.
Without a new CUP, Altamont cannot continue with its planned facility improvements, change its hours of operation, or host concerts at the track.
Thursday marked the fourth time county officials chose to wait before making a decision. Continuances were issued at the March, April and June meetings. The July meeting was canceled.
Officials for Riverside Motorsports Park — Altamont’s parent company — declined to comment on the ruling but have previously said they expect the county to eventually approve the CUP.County officials could not be reached for comment.
The track’s main opponent is a landowner whose property directly borders the track. The landowner’s attorney, Fremont-based Mark Cohen, said the board considered changing Alameda County law because of the Altamont issue.
The law for land zoned “A” for agricultural — like Altamont’s 83 acres — says outdoor recreational facilities are permitted uses, but the law does not mention racetracks. The board considered changing the law to include racetrack as a permitted use, Cohen said.
“That’s absurd,” he said. “It’s changing the rule to fit the application rather than changing the application to fit the rule.”
Depending on October’s ruling, the racetrack might be subjected to a costly and lengthy environmental impact review before the CUP is approved.
Race officials have said they’ll wait as long as possible to receive approval, but the long delay worried Mary Ann Griffin. She has lived on a ranch near Altamont for 40 years and has seen numerous prior owners of Altamont fail.
“If the company isn’t given a chance to improve that racetrack, it’s going to be like the rest of them — defunct in a short time,” she said.