By Tommy Acosta
Sedona, AZ – The Sedona City Council at its May 23, 2023 meeting took no action on a proposed ordinance that would ban all off-road vehicles from being driven on state-owned public roads or streets owned by the city.
The ordinance, spearheaded by Sedona Mayor Scott Jablow on the premise that such vehicles pose a risk to the health, safety and welfare of the community, would impose heavy fines to anyone driving the ATVs or OHVs on city streets, including S.R. 179 and S.R. 89A.
ATV rental companies have admitted that such vehicles are not intended or designed to be driven on paved roads, yet, in Arizona, they are allowed to do so under Arizona Revised Statute 28-1174 (4B).
Opponents against the ordinance argued at the meeting that if adopted the ban would cripple the ATV rental industry in Sedona and cause much hardship to the owners and employees, as it would effectively, as written, destroy their livelihood.
The city attorney reported that numerous legal avenues exist for the city to move forward with the ordinance, under the auspices of maintaining public safety on city roads.
He also cited operational manuals from companies that manufacture off-road vehicles that specifically state they are unsafe for use on public roads.
The meeting was well attended with proponents and opponents speaking for and against the ban.
Proponents spoke of noise and safety issues while opponents argued that fatalities associated with ATV use across the country are proportionally very low in comparison to other vehicular accident-associated deaths, with Sedona recording none over the years.
The city has been working, with community residents trying to find ways to diminish the impact ATVs have in the city and surrounding areas.
Concluding the discussion, Mayor Jablow called for a unified effort to finding a solution that’s compatible to either side, that would lessen the perceived impact of ATVs in the community.
“All we are concerned about is keeping people safe,” he said. “An accident can happen just like that. Let’s come to an agreement somehow or another. Let’s see what we could come up with. I’m willing to work with anybody that has a constructive idea.”
Watch the council’s discussion in its totality HERE.
Coal miners and their families in Appalachia were forced out of their livelihoods because coal is an extremely dirty mostly unwanted source of energy.
ATV rental companies brought their own demise upon themselves for not self regulating. Yes the rental companies stand to loose upwards of $1,800 per customer or whatever outrageous rental fees they happen to charge and that effects the owners and their employees pocket books but the damage ATV’s have done to this community and it’s environment far outweigh the loss to these businesses which should have been studied and planned out far better than they have been.
Renters undergo zero off road vehicle operators instruction and there is little to no instruction on where renters can and cannot operate these vehicles which are capable of going places other vehicles cannot. There are no speed regulators on their rental vehicles, even u hauls have them because operating them at high speeds is incredibly dangerous just as ATV/OHV’s are at high speeds.
It would be very helpful if all rentals were required to be GPS tracked, speed regulated and marked with highly visible vehicle numbers and telephone numbers for the companies they belong to. Also having Law Enforcement contact numbers for people to call in complaints to for each of the jurisdictions they are operated in would also be incredibly useful. I seriously doubt any complaints made directly to the rental company see any type of penalty for the operators who have complaints lodged against them. Self governing rarely works!
On the other hand, Sedona residents who own and operate ATV/OHV’s should be able to have their vehicles inspected and take a basic off road test to obtain a permit which would allow them to use Sedona roadways so long as they have street legal tires and said permit.
Off road vehicles are extremely useful tools for first responders, ranchers, farmers and people who want to explore. They are NOT intended to do doughnuts, fly through mud holes, drive off trail/road over delicate plant life nor are they meant to drive at high speeds which results in our delicate trees and plants to be suffocated by mud and dust! Most of all they are not supposed to have stereo systems that blasts noise at concert level decibels!
Is it possible to compromise by having the ATVs trailered by the company to the designated off road paths where the company can leave the trailer and pick them up at designated time? Just wondering….
Thom Stanley, that would be the best option and one agreed to by the rental companies as well as the City however the sticking point is that there is very little area in the USFS trailheads to park the trailers.