1 County of Riverside Planning Department 4080 Lemon Street, 9 th Floor Riverside, CA Attn: Mr. Mark Balys Mr. Balys, The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), based in Pickerington, Ohio, is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1924, with more than 260,000 enthusiast members nationwide, more than 30,000 of whom reside in California. Our members are interested in any action that may affect their enjoyment of offhighway motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) recreation. These comments are in reference to the Staff Report and Draft Ordinance provided to our representatives on May 11, and will reference the page numbers used throughout the documents provided at that time. Please note all italicized sections are drawn directly from the county provided proposal. The AMA applauds the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor s efforts to address the many challenges involved, and are thankful for the opportunity to participate in the process. None of our comments should be construed as defending criminal activities, such as trespass or illegal use of public lands. These types of behaviors are addressed in county statutes already and we fully support law enforcement efforts aimed at curbing or eliminating these behaviors. It is not our intention to address such issues further in these comments, and instead we will be focusing on the currently legal uses of private property by the owners or those with permission to do so. Riverside County is the center of the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) world, and is the home of many past and current AMA championship-winning riders, so much so that the 951 area code is specifically cited as the place to be in many publications. Every OHV original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has a test facility (Honda, Yamaha, KTM, Suzuki, Kawasaki), and the majority of the motorcycle industries after-market manufacturers also call Riverside County home.
2 The financial benefit enjoyed by the county through sales tax and other revenues cannot be overstated, as there is no other place on earth that has a similar concentration of OHV oriented businesses and users. This effort to regulate OHV use on private property is of great concern to many of our members as well as to the industry as a whole. Issues such as trespass and diminishing public land riding opportunities are often mixed in with private property use issues when they are in fact deserving of separate and distinct rules and regulations. We are troubled that a small number of property owners have been singled out for increased scrutiny, even though the Sheriff s office has repeatedly stated they are in fact not in violation of any laws currently on the books. The use of cease and desist notifications for these property owners is arbitrary and capricious. No clarification has been made as to what exactly they are being ordered to do in order to comply with said notices. Repeated requests for this information have been made to the county. These issues must be resolved quickly in order to avoid legal action by the effected owners. The denial of a timely and consistent process is illegal and discriminatory in nature. Page one of the Staff report gives an excellent synopsis of the situation faced by the county. OHV registrations are at an all time high and only expected to grow in the foreseeable future. The statement that OHV use is not specifically permitted in any zone within Riverside County is the basis for the current attempts to close/limit use of private property by OHV s. This vague and overly broad statement implies that no activity, be it OHV, bicycle, skateboard or any other type of activity is allowed unless specifically named within the county ordinances, and flies in the face of all basic administrative law guidelines. Common practice is the exact opposite, specifically that those activities not called out in statue are in fact legal. The opening of a State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) is cited as one way the demand for opportunity is being addressed. However the opening date of late 2006 is very optimistic and once operational would only serve a small portion of the riding community due to its location, size and other constraints. The diverse type of riding experience sought after by the public cannot be served by one facility alone, and in fact the possibility of a professional level motocross (MX) track is very low. Additionally, the professional rider common in Riverside will not be served by a public facility, much less be able to utilize them without causing serious distractions (or worse) for the other riders. The potential of an individual of this caliber being denied the ability to make a living due to a lack of a sufficient practice facility is a real concern. Continued training at the skill level these riders have obtained requires a facility with a level of difficulty that the average rider will not be able to utilize, and as a result require completely different facilities. The cited complaints for dust and illegal riding (trespass) are of concern to the AMA, but these issues are in fact addressed by current ordinances. The owners of these riding areas in questions that received the cease and desist notices in fact have water trucks or sprinklers to keep dust at a minimum, and have never been cited by Air Resources or Code Enforcement for air pollution violations.
3 As previously stated trespass is illegal and should not be intertwined within this discussion of appropriate uses of private property by those individuals who have a legal right to do so. Specific comments regarding the Proposed Ordinance dated 5/9/05, pages 34-51of the document Section A. BICYCLE MOTOCROSS. Bicycle Motocross (more commonly known as BMX) is a sport where young athletes power their nonmotorized bicycles over jumps, around banked turns and up and down hills It is unclear why bicycles have been added to this proposal, if sound/noise is the primary concern then clearly bicycles are going to fall well below any adopted standards. Bicycles are non germane to this ordinance, all references to bicycles should be deleted from this document. B. (no comments) C. (no comment) D. GRADING. Any stripping, cutting, filling, stockpiling, movement, clearing or grubbing of land. All grading for off-highway vehicle tracks shall be in compliance with Riverside County Ordinance No 45. This should apply to all movement of dirt/soil regardless of intended use. The second sentence is sufficient without specific reference to OHV s. All grading shall be in compliance w/riverside County Ordinance No 457. E. NOISE SENSITIVE AREA. Land, which is designated residential in the Riverside County General Plan and less than 2 ½ acres net in area. This requirement is too vague. Land that is designated residential includes a huge variety of parcels. Location and neighboring parcel uses must be taken into consideration. Why restrict 2.5 acres (or less) if the owner can keep his OHV s quiet? Standards should be set and compliance judged on a case-by-case basis. Some smaller parcels may be acceptable for use, some large ones may not. This does not take into consideration examples where land owners of less than 2.5 acres are adjacent to much larger ones. In addition, owners of multiple smaller parcels would not be allowed to ride under these rules. F. (no comment)
4 G. OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE. A motor vehicle, designed to travel over any terrain as defined in Division 16.5 (Sections ) of the State of California Vehicle Code. Off highway vehicle means a motor driven off-road vehicle capable of cross-country travel without benefit of a road or trail, on natural terrain. It includes, but is not limited to, a multi-wheel drive or low pressure tire vehicle, a motorcycle or related all-terrain vehicle deriving motive power from a source other than muscle or wind. An OHV as defined in the vehicle code, section is sufficient. Many vehicles, regardless of the manufacturers intent, are capable of travel without the benefit of road, trail or natural terrain and this is an inappropriate statement that should be removed. For purposes of gas tax revenue used by the State of California and the Federal Government, any vehicle not traveling on a paved surface or county highway is an OHV, including street licensed ones. H. OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE TRACK, COMMERCIAL. A site either (a) open to the public or (b) open to members only on a regular basis for Bicycle Motocross (BMX) or off highway vehicle riding which may be operating either for profit or non-profit. The site may be utilized by novice riders, as well as by professional riders or teams, and may provide facilities or services such as restrooms, parking, first aid station, snack bar, viewing stand, equipment sales, or fuel dispensing. In all cases a conditional use permit will be required for a commercial off-highway vehicle track. The definition of a commercial track is very broad, and should include the requirement for a start/finish line, one way travel and a viewing area. Bicycles are again mentioned, and this is out of place in an OHV usage ordinance. The statement the site may be utilized by and may provide is too vague. The definition of a track needs to be clear for owners and enforcement personnel alike. I. OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE TRACK, NONCOMMERCIAL. A privately-owned site which is not open to the public, and that is utilized by the resident(s) of the property. This includes tracks that are created through the regular and repeated use of a property by off-highway vehicles where it is apparent that degradation of land forms and habitat destruction has occurred. A Conditional Use permit is required. No Grading as defined by Section G. is allowed unless the site has an approved conditional use permit. The repeated and regular use of property does not create a track. Popular riding areas in National Forests, on BLM lands and other state areas would easily meet this definition. A track needs to meet specific criteria, such as a start/finish line, direction of travel and a viewing area. Also, references to habitat destruction need to be removed or better defined as this leaves far too much room for interpretation and confusion as currently written. J. (no comment)
5 K. RIDING AREA. Anywhere within the confines of a parcel where off-highway vehicles are ridden. The riding area must be in compliance with the provisions of Riverside County Ordinance No Refers to ordinance 348, which states on page one, does not specify development and sighting standards for off-highway vehicle usage, attachment B is referred to, which is in fact the proposed ordinance. A riding area needs a clear definition such as in the first sentence, Anywhere within the confines of a parcel where off-highway vehicles are ridden. This would be sufficient and avoid the redundancy presently in the definition as compliance to the specifics of the ordinance is automatically required upon its adoption. Section A. Off highway vehicle usage is not permitted as a matter of right and unless expressly permitted below is prohibited in any zone within Riverside County. This is a vague and overly broad statement. The assumption is that OHV use is illegal unless otherwise specified and makes illegal all uses of OHV s. Generally held standards of administrative law regarding legal uses of private property do, in fact, allow all uses not specifically restricted. This attempts to presume current use is illegal when in fact nowhere in current law is this the case. The presumption is that the county automatically has the right to decide what can and cannot be done on every parcel of land, and that those uses not specifically named are illegal is in error. B. No person shall operate any off highway vehicle of any type unless it is in compliance with California Vehicle Code Section 38370, as amended. This would adopt the current California noise standards from section 38370, which refer to EPA mandated OEM test procedures. The CHP in fact has no test procedures to verify compliance for this at the present time, and has indicated no plans to develop one in the foreseeable future. The later sections of (g-i) were written for use on public lands and call for the use of the J-1287 test to verify compliance. C. Zoning Off highway vehicle usage may occur in the R-R, W-2, M-R, M-R-A, M-SC, M-M, and M-H zones only and is prohibited in any other zone. These zones must be clearly defined within the ordinance. Every opportunity must be afforded the general public in order to facilitate compliance. Without sufficient knowledge of what amount of the land within the county this would allow/restrict it is difficult to comment on the proposed zones. It is also of concern that as zoning changes occur previously allowed uses may become illegal. Some provisions for existing uses must be included. D. Required Planning Approval
6 1. Individual properties located outside noise-sensitive areas (a) A property owner shall obtain a OHV Permit from the Riverside County Planning Department the application for the OHV permit shall be made in writing on the form provided by the Riverside County Planning Department. Upon receipt of the completed form, appropriate exhibit and application fee, the applicant will be issued a standard set of conditions to be signed, and the OHV permit will be issued. (b) The property owner and/or residents of the site shall comply with the provisions of the OHV permit, (c) The maximum life for the OHV Permit shall be 5 years 1. The noise sensitive areas definition needs to be clarified as a first step before proper comments can be made on this section. 1(a) OHV permits to operate on private land should be transferable and any fees, if required, should be affordable and earmarked for uses that would benefit OHV use. (b) The process to apply for a permit should not be restricted to property owners alone. Potential buyers of property, with the intention of future OHV use, should in fact be able to apply for and receive these permits prior to purchasing property, and may decline to make such purchases if a permit it not granted. The process needs to be fair, predictable and timely for all parties involved, otherwise it will negatively impact property values and result in an unfair taking by the county. (c) Permit renewals should be allowed prior to expiration, and the process needs to be clear and timely. OHV owners should not be left in a position of wondering if their permit will be renewed. Prior use with no significant changes should ensure approval of renewals. Only in the event of significant changes to the adjacent properties should renewal applications require additional review. Pre-existing use by OHV s must be considered when adjoining property is sold/purchased/re-zoned, and the understanding by all parties that mere objection to OHV use is not sufficient reason to revoke or deny renewal of a permit need to be made clear. Understanding and agreement regarding the renewal of permits is crucial for both the applicant and the county. 2. Environmental Assessment Should the Planning Department determine that the OHV Permit application requires an Environmental Assessment, the applicant shall submit the necessary mailing labels for advertising purposes, and additional Environmental
7 Assessment fee. The applicant shall provide one (1) typed set of self-sticking labels indicating the names and mailing address of the owners of all properties that are located within 600 feet of the exterior boundary of the project site, as well as any contiguously owned properties, if applicable. If the total number of properties located within the project notification area is less than 25, the notification area shall be expanded until that area yields 25 properties, but the notification area need not exceed more than 2,400 feet from the exterior boundary of the project site and any contiguously owned properties. For purposes of this requirement multiple properties owned by a single entity shall count as one property. Not less than 45 days after an application is deemed as complete, the Planning Director shall schedule the time and date on which the Director s decision on the application is to be made. Not less than 10 days prior to the date on which the decision is to be made, the Planning Director shall give notice of the proposed use by mail or delivery to all owners shown on the last equalized assessment roll and any updates as owning real property within a minimum 600-foot radius of the exterior boundaries of the proposed project. The notice shall include the statement that no public hearing will be held unless a hearing is requested in writing before the date scheduled for the decision to be made. No public hearing on the application shall be held before a decision is made unless a hearing is requested in writing or by the applicant or other affected person, or if the Planning Director determines that a public hearing should be required. The Planning Director shall give notice of the decision to the applicant and to any other person who requests notice of the decision. The decision of the Planning Director shall be considered final unless within 10 days of the date of mailing of decision to the applicant an appeal there from is filed. (c) If a public hearing is required under the provisions of this subsection, notice of the time, date, and place of the hearing before the Planning Director, and a general description of the location of the real property which is the subject of the hearing, shall be given at least ten days prior to the hearing as follows:
8 a) Mailing or delivering to the owner of the subject real property or the owner s duly authorized agent. b) Mailing or delivering to all owners or real property which is located within a minimum 600 foot radius of the exterior boundaries of the subject property, as such owners are shown on the last equalized assessment roll and any updates. The Planning Director may require that additional notice be given in any other manner the Director deems necessary or desirable. (d) If a public hearing is required, the Director shall hear relevant testimony from interested persons and make a decision within a reasonable time after the close of the public hearing. The Planning Director shall give notice of the decision to the applicant, and the decision of the Planning Director shall be considered final unless within 10 days of the date of mailing of the notice of decision to the applicant an appeal therefrom is filed. (e) APPEAL. An applicant or any interested person may appeal the decision of the Planning Director by the following procedure: a) Appeal to the Planning Commission. Within ten calendar days after the date of mailing of the decision by the Planning Director, an appeal, in writing, may be made to the Planning commission on the form provided by the Planning Department, which shall be accompanied by the filing fee set forth in Ordinance No Notice of the appeal shall be given in the same manner that notice was given for the original hearing. The Planning Commission shall render its decision within thirty days following the close of the hearing on the appeal. b) Appeal to the Board of Supervisors. Within ten calendar days after the date of mailing of the Planning Commission s decision, an appeal, in writing, may be made to the Board of Supervisors, on the forms provided by the Planning Department, which shall
9 be accompanied by the fee set forth in County Ordinance No Upon receipt of a completed appeal, the Clerk of the Board shall set the matter for hearing before the Board of Supervisors not less than five days nor more than thirty days thereafter and shall give written notice of the hearing to the appellant, the applicant, and the Planning Director. The board of Supervisors shall render its decision within thirty days following the close of the hearing on the appeal. The requirements for an environmental assessment (EA) should be consistent with other similar projects throughout the State. Expecting a property owner to pay for such a costly analysis of their property should only be done in those cases where a commercial facility is being proposed. The process to determine what level of environmental review will be required (Neg. Dec. EIS, EA) must be consistently applied to all project throughout the county. 3. Commercial Off Highway Vehicle Tracks. (a) Development of off highway vehicle tracks for public or private use must be consistent with the provisions of the Riverside County General Plan. (b) Application for a commercial off-highway vehicle track will require submission of a Conditional Use Permit and Change of Zone application meeting requirements set forth within the application packet and the Off highway Vehicle Track Design Guidelines as approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Commercial Tracks need to be clearly defined. The number of riders alone is not sufficient to trigger this type of permit requirement. A clear definition of what is allowed and not allowed with a private vs. commercial operation is critical and something the AMA would be happy to assist with. a. no comment b. no comment SECTION LOCATION, DESIGN, AND DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE OHV USE A. Impacts. The operation of any off-highway vehicle in such a manner that a reasonable person of normal sensitivity residing in the area is caused discomfort or annoyance; or which interferes with the comfort, repose, peace or which endangers the health or the environment of inhabitants of the area shall not be
10 allowed. Off highway vehicle usage shall significant viewshed areas; hillside areas; biologic, agricultural, archaeologic or paleontologic resources; habitat linkages; historic and cultural resources; or other areas deemed worthy of protection. B. Hours of Operation. It is unlawful to operate any off-highway vehicle on private property on: (2) On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. (3) Before 8:00 a.m., or after 6:00 pm during Pacific Standard Time or, before 8:00 a.m., or after 7:00 p.m. during Daylight Savings Time. DAY RIDING ALLOWED NO RIDING ALLOWED Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday This entire section is subject to interpretation and must be more clearly defined. The adoption of sound limits at property lines will clearly define what is reasonable and help to remove much of the subjective nature of defining areas worthy of protection. Clear and consistent enforcement of db levels for all uses is critical. While hours of operation may be appropriate days of operation are not. A. The hours of operation need to follow those restricting other sound producing activities, such as the use of lawn mowers, leaf blowers and the like. Restrictions of use for entire days are without merit and should be removed. If sound is the issue then compliance with sound standards should be more than sufficient. B. Grading requirements should the same as for any other use of private property currently required to obtain a permit for land disturbing activities. C. Parcel size restrictions will not ensure compliance with proper sound levels or other requirements and should be removed.
11 D. Habitat Areas 1. Off-highway vehicle usage may occur on private parcels which are not located within a noise-sensitive area and greater than 2 ½ 5 acres net in area provided that riding is limited to areas outside of any defined environmental constraint areas, as shown on any recorded land division map and associated Environmental Constraint Sheet with Environmental Constraint notes, and the activity meets the definition for noise-sensitive areas set forth within Section I. This section is also difficult to comment on without a clear understanding of what parcels are recorded within the referenced land division maps and sheets. The noise sensitive area restriction need to be removed as it is too vague and does not allow for individual determinations of use based on actual on the ground situations and instead attempts to exclude many parcels from consideration without any recourse for the owners. E. Air Quality. Off highway vehicle riding will generate fugitive dust. A property owner shall comply with all South Coast Air Quality Management District guidelines for the suppression of fugitive dust. Their website is This statement is presumptive and inflammatory. The second half of the section is adequate and should be used without the previous sentence. Our research indicates that No owners have been cited for fugitive dust to date and there is no reason to assume they will be in the future. F. Water Quality. Repeated off highway vehicle use will destroy vegetation and create dirt pathways that are subject to runoff and erosion potential. Compliance with Regional Water Quality Control Board best management practices shall be followed to mitigate any problems. Their website is This statement is presumptive and inflammatory. The second half of the section is adequate and should be used without the previous sentence. Our research indicates that no owners have been cited for water quality violations to date and there is no reason to assume they will be in the future.
12 G. Noise & Safety Noise may carry long distances and have a negative impact on surrounding properties. To insure that the noise impacts generated from off highway vehicle operation is minimized each site shall comply with the following requirements: 1. The use of public address systems, loud speakers, or amplified music is prohibited. 2. Any motor vehicle operated within the County of Riverside shall be equipped with a USDA Qualified Spark Arrester as listed on the USFS website, and also with a muffler a defined in Section of the California Vehicle Code. No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless it is so equipped with a spark arrester and a stock or OEM muffler or better. (3)No person shall operate a commercial or noncommercial offhighway vehicle track in such a way that: a. The Leq A 15 min, measured at the edge of property or beyond exceeds 65 dba, and b. The peak dba L slow A measured at the edge of property or beyond exceeds 75 dba max at any time. The term noise is subjective where as sound can be measured. Please make future references to sound as opposed to noise when discussing this issue. It is unclear why public address systems, loud speakers and amplified music have been added to this section of the proposal. Amplified sound sources are non germane to this ordinance and should be deleted from this document. 1. A requirement for spark arrestor on any motor vehicle operated within the county is an error. Spark arrestor requirements should be the same as in section 38366, chapter 6 of the California vehicle code, not 27150, which deal with the adequate muffler requirement for street licensed vehicles, not OHV s. References to stock and OEM mufflers are redundant (they are the same thing). Also, a better muffler is not defined, and is therefore open to interpretation. 3. (a & b) Should be applied to all sound generating activities, not just OHV s. Leq A must be defined to ensure citizens efforts to comply with said levels.
13 H. Exclusions. This article shall not apply to the use of farm vehicles for agricultural or property maintenance purposes, vehicles being used for grading or construction purposes, vehicles being used for governmental or habitat agency assessment purposes, or golf carts. Spark arrestor requirements should be applied to all OHV s, regardless of primary use. I. Setbacks. To provide that the operation of allowable off-highway vehicles do not exceed the maximum noise level of 65 dba (Leq A 15 min) at the edge of property or beyond, off-highway vehicle use on any parcel shall not occur less than 50 feet from any property line, and not less than 200 feet from any residence on an adjacent parcel. Setback requirements are very difficult to verify in most cases. Unless the county wants to do a formal survey of every parcel of land it is going to find this regulation impossible to enforce. The term residence need to be further defined. J. Maximum Number of Off Highway Vehicles on a Private Parcel The table below identifies the maximum number of off highway vehicles that may be in operation at any one time on a parcel by a resident provided that the use fully complies with the provisions of this article. PARCEL SIZE MAXIMUM NO. OF OHV`S TO BE IN OPERATION AT ANY ONE TIME 2½--10 ac ac ac. 4 A Conditional Use Permit is required to utilize more than 4 off-highway vehicles on a parcel. The restriction on numbers of vehicles in operation will have no effect on measurable sound and should be removed. Measurable db levels will be created by the loudest vehicle, and other quieter vehicles will not add to the overall db level. The requirement that a condition use permit be applied for based solely on the number of OHV s in operation must be removed. Compliance with dust, water quality and db levels alone will dictate appropriate use numbers.
14 Section A. Any Off-highway Vehicle Permit may be revoked by the Planning Department upon finding that one or more of the following conditions for revocation exist. (1) That the use is detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare, or is a public nuisance. (2) That the permit was obtained by fraud or perjured testimony. (3) That the use is being conducted in violation of the terms and conditions of the permit. (4) That the use for which the permit was granted has ceased or has been suspended for one year or more. B. Upon a determination by the Planning Department that grounds for revocation exist, the procedures set forth within Section 18.31b(1) through Section 18.31b(8) shall be implemented and followed A. Lack of use should not be grounds for losing a permit. The finding that the use is detrimental to public health, safety or general welfare, or is a public nuisance is too subjective and must be clarified. B. (no comment) TRESPASS Pursuant to the provisions of Riverside County Ordinance No. 529 no person shall drive a motor vehicle on lands belonging to occupied by another without having in his immediate possession and, upon request of a peace officer, displaying written permission from the owner of such lands, his agent, or the person in lawful possession thereof. A violation of Ordinance No. 529 is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1000 or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
15 The issue of trespass does not belong in this ordinance. Trespass is currently illegal and outside of the scope of this document. AMA fully endorses the enforcement of current anti-trespass laws. Section (no comment) Thank you again for this opportunity. The AMA will continue to monitor the counties efforts closely and welcomes the opportunity for a continued dialog on this issue. Any adopted ordinances should include provisions for a public awareness campaign, and must include opportunities for testing, without fear of penalty, those parcels whose owners wish to verify compliance. Issues of trespass, excessive dust and water quality, regardless of the particular activity occurring on a parcel, must be addressed appropriately and equitably. Targeting one group of land owners while ignoring others will only add to the problems and discourage those who truly want to be good neighbors while still enjoying their chosen form of recreation. Sincerely, Nicholas Haris Western States Representative American Motorcyclist Association