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2010 Redux OHV Ordinance #3973 History, Comments and Snide Remarks

By   /   May 7, 2014  /   4 Comments

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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.

28.0401 Definitions:

(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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  1. Mike Hawkins Mike Hawkins says:

    I tried to send this information to a periodical called the San Bernardino Sentinel in response to an ill-informed article they recently published. Here is what I got for my trouble…

    “If I own property there are laws and codes to its use. I can’t burn down my house just because I own it. Your use of the property you own affects people and land around you in addition to being destructive to your own property.

    Running a machine up and down and around for “Fun” and tearing up the land seems to me to be as bad as setting your house on fire. Neither serve a real purpose other than some sort of sick “Joy” or Wheee factor you get out of it.

    I have seen off roaders target tortoise and other wild life… I think off road use should be at a speed of 5mph and with a trail guide on foot to make sure no underground animals are crushed. In addition there needs to be a purpose of the trip to be more than “Wheeeeee”.

    Squandering Natural Resources for Entertainment is not something I can say I support.

    You may want to contact the Sentinel directly.”


    I don’t know what happened to my mail but I took the opportunity to TRY to help this individual understand another point of view. I’d like to share that correspondence, hoping it might correct some problem thinking I’ve heard from others.


    You say…
    “You may want to contact the Sentinel directly.”

    I apologize! I thought I had. But since you were kind enough to reply and share some of your thoughts, allow me to answer with some of mine.

    You commented…
    “I can’t burn down my house just because I own it.”

    Perhaps not where you live (in a city?) and I surmise you would have no reason to that anyway but there are places where it is a perfectly legal method of removal when established procedures are followed.

    “Your use of the property you own affects people and land around you in addition to being destructive to your own property.”

    Absolutely! BTW neighbor, I wish you’d try not to fart so loudly, especially in the wee hours.

    “…in addition to being destructive to your own property.”

    The intent of this, the last part of your previous statement, is unclear to me. If it is meant as generalized grumbling, you’ve done well? Incase not, let me offer that the process of building your house and even the very fact that it is there, is not particularly good for the environment either, eh?

    “Running a machine up and down and around for “Fun”…”

    Have you and the family ever gone on a Sunday drive to visit someone or someplace or to see new sights just for the enjoyment of it? Have you been to the Grand Canyon, Bolder Dam, Mount Rushmore, Grand Tetons… Driving is certainly more fun than walking when distances are great and Bam-Bam is still in diapers. And it’s especially fun in a car you just recently purchased, isn’t it? Well the same is true for my family when we take the Buggy somewhere only we can see sights you never will.

    You say…
    “…and tearing up the land seems to me to be as bad as setting your house on fire. Neither serve a real purpose other than some sort of sick “Joy” or Wheee factor you get out of it.”

    And you say…
    “Squandering Natural Resources for Entertainment is not something I can say I support.”

    Ok… just forget about burning your house down for a minute. Have you ever been to a Dodgers game? There was more than a little land torn up building THAT stadium wasn’t there? No small amount of resources used running the joint either. And, how about the quadrillion gallons of gas burned sitting in traffic jambs every time there’s a game. In case you’re not into “Baseball, Apple Pie, Mom or Chevrolet” there are plenty of other examples of the expense to which we will go to satisfy our “sick “Joy” or Wheee factor” as you call it. Given some thought, I spect Off-roading leaves a smaller foot print than most “Wheee factor” endeavors. BTW you ever been to the movies? Then I think, in fact, you probably do support “Squandering Natural Resources for Entertainment” after all.

    You claim…
    “I have seen off roaders target tortoise and other wild life… ”

    I doubt you’ve actually seen that as you seem to be living a life quite apart from reality. Never the less, there ARE bad people in this world. Would you expect that a soul demented enough to do such thoughtless things would not be doing them in any case, OHV or not?

    You shared…
    “I think off road use should be at a speed of 5mph and with a trail guide on foot to make sure no underground animals are crushed. In addition there needs to be a purpose of the trip to be more than “Wheeeeee”.”

    You can think what you want. Today’s young off-roaders, motivated by the sport, are learning skills that are important to society. They do the maintenance and repair of their vehicles and equipment. They are constructing their own machines, Buggies, Rock Crawlers, Trailers, you name it. They are exploring innovative ways to make things better, more efficient, more economical, lighter, stronger, and yes, faster and they are doing it off-road rather than making problems on the streets as was the case when I was a kid! The young off-roaders today will be the men and women who keep the world working tomorrow. Poets and Musicians are cool but they would be very hungry without the help of mechanically inclined friends and even the worlds greatest Thinkers and Dreamers needed the young engineers with hands on experience to put us on the moon.

    A little common sense on both sides of the OHV issue would be good for everyone.


  2. desertracerswife desertracerswife says:

    I seriously bow to you Mike. I don’t know if I would have been so civil tongued.

    (and you missed a fun race this weekend, next weekend at North Anderson is an Enduro, come out and hang out with us if you would like)

  3. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Got this email from the Sentinel


    I would quibble with your characterization of the article as a “hit piece.” My opinion was not expressed in the article, though the opinions of two people I interviewed were. Actually, though I no longer have the leisure to do so, I formerly did my share of dunebuggying and quadrunning out in the desert, i.e., Danby Essex Fenner, Johnson Valley, Pisgah, Joshua Tree, and a few other places. I have no objection to people engaging in such activities; nor do I have a problem with people “staging,” though I can understand how someone who has
    removed himself or his family to a remote end of the county might not appreciate a couple hundred people now manifesting on his doorstep, as it were, together with their vehicles.
    The article was marred from the standpoint that it did not contain the expressed viewpoints of passionate off roaders. That is because I was unsuccessful in finding anyone to speak out with regard to the issue. I did manage to speak with a couple of motorcyclists from this area [Rancho Cucamonga/Upland] who occasionally venture into the desert to ride, but both were unwilling to speak for the record. I have, somewhere in my several dozen boxes of old notes, a letter or two from some fellow who lived in Apple Valley who is adamant about preserving off road access, but digging through all of that material, which has no filing scheme other than having been thrown in with everything else, was daunting and I did not have time to do that and get the rest of the paper out by deadline.
    If you are inclined to do so, you could write a letter to the editor encapsulating your viewpoint about the relative inoffensiveness of motorcycling in the desert, the officiousness of such regulations as 3973, the general intrusion of regulation into people’s lives, and whatever else you want to say [including saying how you consider the Sentinel to be a one-sided rag], and I will publish it as such. I would ask, at the same time, that you resist the compunction to express yourself using phrases such as “full of shit” and “utter bullshit.” I occasionally take recourse to such terms myself in my dialogue with people but have some level of squeamishness about those sorts of words being printed in the Sentinel. Part of my readership is sensitive to such terminology.
    Thank you Dan, for taking the time to write. I appreciate your input and assure you I can bear anything you write, as long as it is sincerely felt, with equanimity.


  4. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Oh by the way… If anyone is having a problem keeping up… IE what the hell are Mike and Dan talking about. Here is the SBC Sentinel newsletter that bashes OHVers.

    Click Here

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