Dust hangs in the air as motorcyclists ride past the second Motos in Moab event held on private property on Kane Creek Blvd the weekend of May 27. The event drew an estimated 1000 participants and generated complaints of excessive noise and raucous behavior from Moab residents. [Photo courtesy Mike Newbold]

The rumble of machines, traffic congestion and speeding on city streets were the primary topics of concern voiced by residents at two city-sponsored public meetings last week.

“It seems like noise, safety and quality of life are important to people here,” Moab City Council member Rani Derasary said at the city council chambers on Wednesday, June 29. “This is a good forum for us to collect information and pinpoint needs in different areas.”

A second meeting was held on Thursday, June 30 at the Grand Center. Approximately 30-35 residents attended each meeting.

Derasary told the Moab Sun News that since becoming a council member, she has received emails and comments from residents about noise, as well as certain streets, intersections and neighborhoods that have safety issues.

“I was hoping the meetings would offer residents a chance to come talk to us face-to-face, so we’d have more information about what problems we’re having in the city, so that we can address them the most effectively,” she said.

Derasary credited Moab City Manager Rebecca Davidson for coming up with the idea to have two meetings, one on the east side of town and one on the west, to better understand the concerns from different parts of town.

“I knew folks were experiencing a lot of noise on the east side along the route to Sand Flats,” Derasary said. “But I wasn’t aware that noise was such an issue for people off of Kane Creek.”

Derasary said that residents in the Mountain View and Doc Allen subdivisions were being impacted, as well as seniors who are often housebound with few options for escaping the commotion.

In addition to noise, other issues raised at the meetings included heavy traffic and the possible need to reduce the speed limit on Main Street; congestion on 100 North from the post office to 400 East, speeding and safety concerns around the Center Street ball field, and speeding on 500 West.

A majority of those who spoke at the east side meeting singled out a proliferation of side-by-side, or utility task vehicle (UTV) use on city streets as the prime source of extensive noise in town. Residents from both sides of town cited two large motorized events – the UTV Rally on the Rocks, and Motos in Moab – as being significantly loud.

Motorcycles, general speeding and semi-truck traffic on Main Street were also cited as noise sources, as well as idling trucks, parked illegally overnight, on the highway on the north end of town.

West side resident Kara Dohrenwend, who attended the meeting at the Grand Center, said that idling semi-trucks had become a serious issue for her and for residents in the Mi Vida subdivision. She also marveled at the “rocket speed” at which town had changed in the last 3-5 years.

“The town is bigger, louder and fuller than I ever remember it – and I live right in the thick of it,” Dohrenwend told the Moab Sun News. “It was fascinating to me to hear how much of the change is now also impacting neighborhoods that in the past have always felt a bit immune to me.”

Several of those who spoke at the meetings requested greater enforcement of the city’s noise ordinance. Some suggested random stops or checkpoints, similar to those used for DUI, to inspect for altered mufflers.

Others advocated for patience, and to allow time for the “Throttle Down in Town” campaign to have an effect.

“Throttle Down in Town” is a campaign put forth by a committee of residents, city and county council members and the owner of a local UTV tour company, Kent Green. The goal of the campaign is to educate users of UTV’s, and other motorists, to be aware of how noise from their vehicles impacts local residents.

“We’re very aware of the noise,” Green said. “We have to be patient, trust me, it’s working. Jeep Safari used to run amok, and after a few years we got a hold of it, and that’s what will happen here.”

Longtime Grand County resident Joe Kingsley said that in the past year he has seen a major improvement through the Throttle Down campaign.

“A lot of this noise problem is transitional,” Kingsley said. “Patience on our part will do a lot to alleviate it.”

But, Kingsley said, there needs to be a system in place for notifying police when violations and “showing off” on city streets occurs that will insure a quick response.

“What they (the show-offs) are doing, is not only making us angry, they are a threat to the livelihood of citizens who use our city streets,” he said. “The bad ones need to have the ringer thrown at them.”

Locust Lane resident Don Weisman said that he applauded the efforts of the “throttle down” campaign, but that he was growing discouraged.

“I’m worried about being too patient and then it gets ahead of us,” he said. “The noise is there…and there are a lot of them. I know everyone is working very hard, but we really need to get ahead of this.”

East side resident Carol Mayer also applauded the efforts of “throttle down,” but said that “without enforcement, education is almost moot.”

Mayer suggested having checkpoints, similar to those used for DUI’s, to check decibel levels on machines, and to inspect for faulty or modified mufflers.

“I think we really need to look at enforcement,” Mayer said. “I think we need to look at some spot things and then people will really know that we are taking this on.”

Mountain View resident Pete Gross said that random stops would go a long way in sending a message. And 25-year east side resident Paul Frank asked what kind of noise ordinance the city had, and whether it was being enforced.

“The amount of side-by-side motor sport vehicles in town has really degraded my quality of life,” Frank said.

Moab City Police Chief Mike Navarre said that though Moab has noise ordinances, they’re difficult to enforce. He said that decibel meters are too susceptible to ambient noise, and that they won’t hold up in court.

“They don’t pass the smell test,” he said.

Navarre said that the best thing for residents to do is to call in infractions, but he added, they needed to be willing to sign on to any ticket as a complainant in case it goes to court.

Former Moab City Council candidate Kelly Green, who spoke at the east side meeting, said that “when we live in this valley, we just have to understand that noise happens.”

Green expressed his concerns over traffic congestion and safety along 100 North in front of the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC), and in front of the charter school on 300 south. Green said the city needed to look at having a crossing guard and perhaps install some speed bumps.

“The MARC needs more parking, there definitely is congestion there,” Green said. “We need something different there.”

Green said that everyone needed more tolerance with noise, and that Moab isn’t going to go back to where it was 40 years ago.

“We’re just not a small town anymore,” he said.

Moab City Council member Kalen Jones said that Moab City’s noise ordinance looked specific enough that it should be able to be enforced, and that the city may need to look at posting signs to that effect.

“Perhaps if we do start enforcing, it will give the message that aftermarket mufflers aren’t a great idea,” he said. “It also sends a message to manufacturers if they are going to be making street legal machines.”

Derasary encouraged people to continue to contact the city and council members with their concerns, even if they hadn’t attended the meetings, and she called for a collaborative approach to solve Moab’s traffic and noise issues.

She said that the city needed to work with other government agencies on permitting events, and collectively educate participants on considerate behavior.

“I’d argue that collaboratively, we can promote events that are most considerate of the community… while discouraging, and even saying no, to events that seem to have little regard for our local laws and the safety or quality of life of people living and visiting here.”

Residents call for greater enforcement of noise ordinance

“I’d argue that collaboratively, we can promote events that are most considerate of the community… while discouraging, and even saying no, to events that seem to have little regard for our local laws and the safety or quality of life of people living and visiting here.”