Monday, January 9, 2012

What do you do about Wild Mountain?

Ky Karnecki’s request to be allowed to continue operating his Wild Mountain food stand through the winter creates a quandary for a city that is trying to project a business-friendly image while requiring everybody to play by the same set of rules.

Just based on the facts, the situation’s pretty clear-cut. Karnecki applied for and was granted a temporary operating permit for a seasonal business. That permit is expired. He can apply for a new one. End of story, right?

If the city grants back-to-back-to-back temporary permits, the business is, in effect, permanent — and Karnecki can’t make the property improvements required for permanence. Letting that slide wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the businesses in Sisters that have to play by the rules.

But maybe, some say, food stands like Karnecki’s should be treated as a different class of business and allowed to operate year-round. That would require a development code change, which isn’t going to happen in a day or two. Should Karnecki be able to stay open until the planning commission says yea or nay on making that change?

Karnecki says he’s up against it; can’t keep going at all if he can’t keep going through winter. Sisters hardly wants to see another business fail. But if you start making exceptions to clear-cut regulations, where do you stop? Is it the city’s problem that Karnecki didn’t make enough during his operating season to sustain himself? What about other businesses that are struggling? What should the city do to help them?

The city council should certainly make time for Karnecki to make his case — and it looks like that’s going to happen at their Thursday, January 12, meeting. It might be helpful for the citizenry to weigh in.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Jim, your post is misleading in that it implies the Planning Commission has ultimate authority over this issue. I don't think that's true. I believe the Planning Commission is an advisory body and the Council has authority to accept, deny, or modify any recommendation it receives from the Planning Commission.

    Rules and regulations should never replace good judgment and common sense. No governing body can anticipate and create fair and equatable rules for every conceivable situation. Unanticipated consequences can occur at any time and need to be resolved equitably.

    The City Council has considerable discretion in enforcing it's adopted rules and regulations. I bet if I studied the existing rules and regulations and went on an inspection tour I would find many violations that are not being enforced. There are unlawful signs everywhere, lots that are not maintained, and
    many buildings that are clearly not safe and should be condemned and torn down,

    The Council is spending a lot of money with EDCO and Mac Hay to attract new business and jobs. Government looks bad and loses public trust when it's discretionary powers are not equitably applied. The Council has demonstrated a willingness to bend or change rules to attract new business and jobs. If discretion is good for the big and powerful then it's also good for the little guys like Ky.

  2. That's correct: the PC can recommend a dev. code change; it would be up to the council to approve it. The PC is supposed to be doing a code review in March and Ky Karnecki is seeking to stay in operation in the hopes that they will recommend a change to accommodate his business model.

  3. I built Wild Mountain to code and did so "by the book" at considerable expense. It's an attractive building that has brought positive national media attention to Sisters with a forthcoming article being published in "Martha Stewart Living magazine". It's a business which fits hand in glove with the theme of Sisters being an 1880's western town and features wild harvested foods from the very mountains Sisters community is located. I dare say Wild Mountain couldn't promote the theme of Sisters any better.

    When I applied for permits for my business last April I was told there was no other option available to me but the six month temporary use permit, unless I wanted to pay a $2400 filing fee to request a variance from the planning commission, with no guarantee I'd receive the variance for year round operation. Through the process I am currently engaged in, seeking the extension, I learned the information I was told last April about the $2400 fee was wrong. Had I known then I could have petitioned the Planning Commission without paying such an exorbitant fee, equal to one fourth of the cost I spent in building my building and developing the property, I would have started the process six months ago and not be in the critical situation I'm faced with now.

    Economic conditions have left me in a difficult position. All I'm asking of city council is a temporary extension of 12 weeks to allow city planning to consider my situation and make a recomendation to council for a year round operation code change which if approved would then also apply, to the benefit of, the one other Sisters business operating under the same permit conditions who as I understand also would like to have that opportunity. Planning and council could also write into any change of code language to "limit" any further development of this kind in the future, if they saw fit to do so.

    Ky Karnecki

  4. The following anonymous comment has been edited to remove gratuitous name-calling.

    Jim Cornelius, Editor

    Sisters is not business friendly.

    The minority on the council (single issue liberal who can't work well with people she disagrees with) will continue to harm Sisters economically. And the town and schools will die a slow death, with good businesses and families moving out to better destinations. Sad what has happened in 10-12 short years, but the death spiral will speed up in the next three years. No local option, no jobs, and a school and town that is in decline. Sad.

    Just IMHO, so let the koolaid drinkers retort.

  5. What is the difference between Mr. Karnecki's business and the semi-permanent coffee kiosks which serve food as well as beverage throughout Sisters?

  6. I believe Ky's business (as Does Richard's)fits well with the forward-thinking Cascade Street improvement project. Within a couple of years I expect to hear tourists (and locals) saying "Sisters is emerging from the economic downturn stronger than ever!" Flexibility now is the key. Ky's business fits the Sisters brand well. We should be helping any and all new businesses like this as much as we possibly can. Or they will take their new businesses to surrounding towns.

  7. As there are only two women on City Council it's relatively easy to decipher the previous writers female target of ire on City Council. So, I'd like to say that this person has been a staunch advocate for allowing my business to continue. And rather it has been the male leadership made up of the Mayor and Council President, both of whom ran for election on a "Pro Business" ticket, that have done everything within their power to stop my business from continuing to operate.

    Their methods include the unlawful action of Mayor Kellstrom telling me both in conversation and in email that he will not allow council to consider the matter, and in fact will not allow me to even address council on the matter. Further, he advised me in writing that his decision to keep me from bringing the issue to council was made unilaterally, without discussion or polling of the four other Council members. He in affect sought to obstruct my civil right to address council and it wasn't until this same female council member cut and pasted Oregon Law and Council Rules and emailed it to the Mayor, citing my right as a citizen to address Council, that the Mayor backed off from his attempt to obstruct my access to council, where I will ask council to grant me an emergency extension of my operating permits as described in my earlier comment.

    Further, at a council workshop this past Thursday January 5th, Council President David Asson went so far as to make a motion to strike from Council agenda, my appointment to address Council this coming Thursday January 12th. His motion, to the credit of the majority, failed.

    It has been both the Mayor and Council President who have seemingly worked tirelessly to obstruct my access to due process and to keep my business closed. That the leadership of Council will go so far as to function unlawfully to achieve their personal agenda, is unconscionable and can hardly be viewed as being "Pro Business". As of this writing I have been forced to close my business and have no other means of income.

    As of this moment I am scheduled to speak to Council at the public meeting this Thursday January 12th at 7 pm. I will ask them to debate and vote on allowing my business to re-open and allow me to make a living. Council does in fact have the power to grant an emergency permit extension, as opined by City Attorney Steve Bryant. It is my hope that the remaining three council members whom also ran on a "Pro Business" ticket, will in their wisdom vote in favor of my proposal.

    Ky Karnecki
    Wild Mountain
    Sisters, Oregon

  8. Best leave this topic at a distance equal to a very long pole comment wise...

    What we don't know is what hurts us and others directly involved as just clearly shown.

    My vote is for Ky, however. Common sense makes sense.

  9. I think that the Mayor and Council President aren't so much pro business as they are pro developer-- and that is not the same thing.

    Fostering a sustainable business climate that is friendly to small businesses and business people may in fact have little or nothing to do with real estate development and construction, hence will be of little interest to Mr Kellstrom and his gang.

    Very understandable.

  10. Well, looks like the boys club on the city council came to their senses and are going to let the mushrooms be sold. Wow was that hard. Not very business friendly!