Published September 11, 2012
A long, pointless battle
Despite repeated warnings and the threat of court imposed fines, Deschutes River Ranch owner Jon Petit has continued to allow camping on his riverfront property all summer long without the necessary county and state permits. The showdown between Thurston County officials and the property rights activist is consuming court and county employee time for no good reason. Petit claims he has the right to open his property to the general public for weekend camping that is attracting more than 200 visitors on nice weekends. He claims his property isn’t a campground that needs permits because he doesn’t require people to pay. There’s been, however, a donation box at the entry to the 28-acre ranch. The county has not been heavy-handed in reminding Petit he needs to apply for permits totaling slightly more than $10,000 before inviting the public to camp along the river. It wasn’t until Aug. 10 that the county sought, and received, a court injunction that told Petit to shut down the camping. But the camping has continued and now Petit faces fines up to $500 per violation. Petit would be best served by complying with the county rules and court order. Otherwise, he’ll be liable for fines that could exceed the costs of the permits he needs. Petit has said he will keep appealing any future ruling on his property, even though he’s clearly fighting a losing battle.