San Bernardino County has had an Off-Highway Vehicle ordinance for nearly 40 years.
Ordinance #1590 was adapted in 1970. Titled “MOTORCYCLES AND OFF-THE-ROAD VEHICLES”, it address the need for spark arrestors and mufflers. It required that noise not exceed motor vehicle code limits for the autos of the day. And, it required operators to have written permission to ride on any private property, a blanket rule that would prove to be in conflict with state law and cause the ordinance to be re-written in 1986 as ordinance #3096.
Then, twenty years later… in 2006, off-roaders and property owners alike were surprised as pressure from a local anti-OHV/anti-access group succeeded in getting the ordinance rewritten, yet again.
Today, as OHV Ordinance #3973, the County once again challenges State law with respect to vacant and unmarked land, but new and of particular concern is the assignment of County Land services personnel to act as enforcement officers and the requirement of the controversial $155.00 “Staging Permit”. The permit is required for ten people to assemble on ones own property if anyone is even thinking about driving Grandpa’s old fiberglass buggy.
In late August of 2006 it was brought to the attention of a family (ours) gathered at Grandma’s cabin near Giant Rock that, such an assemblage is now illegal without obtaining permission from the County five weeks in advance, and securing permission slips from Grandma.
28.0404 Staging; Permit Required.
No person shall organize, conduct, or participate in staging, as defined herein, involving ten (10) or more persons, without first obtaining and maintaining on the property where such staging is occurring, a Temporary Special Event Permit for a Minor Event pursuant to section 84.0745 of the County Code, even though, pursuant to sub-section 84.0745(a)(2), such a Minor Event, involving less than two hundred (200) persons, would not normally be subject to the Temporary Special Event Permit process.
(d) “Staging” shall mean a formal or informal assembly or gathering of off-highway vehicles, or other vehicles and equipment accessory thereto, including any related camping or establishment of temporary accommodations, on private or public property for purposes of coordinating the use and operation of such off-highway vehicles on such property or the surrounding areas.
We felt this was a “revolting development” so about mid October, with the help of friends and neighbors, we formed what else, the Friends of Giant Rock off-road club and with the requisite naiveté set out to improve our lot.
After thousands of letters, petitions and signatures, three postponements and a heck of a lot of work, our Supervisors finely agreed to revisit the OHV ordinance.
At the County seat, August 21, 2007, a marathon battle ensued between off-roading families and a handful of wet blankets whose agendas reach far beyond the interests of this County.
At the end of the day the Supervisors concurred that changes were needed and agreed to make them.
Supervisors Mitzelfelt and Hansberger, whose districts offer more riding opportunity than the other three combined, agreed to collaborate and promised to make those changes. That was nearly 2 ½ years ago.
This Month or next, Supervisors Mitzelfelt and Derry will now honor that commitment by asking the Board to drop the staging permit portion of the ordinance.
Everyone agrees the other provisions are working but with only twenty five permits issued to a total of ten customers in 3 ½ years in the largest County in the Nation it is obvious that the suppressive and discriminatory permission requirement is unnecessary and has had nothing to do with any success of this ordinance.
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