While we support the efforts by our elected officials to pursue state legislation that could help Moab regulate UTV impacts, the Moab City Council’s decision to table discussion of the Temporary Land Use Code is extremely disappointing. [See “City officials table further OHV restrictions, focus on proposed state legislation,” Feb. 11 edition. – ed.] Our town is being held hostage by a handful of business owners who are resistant to any kind of regulation. The claims of discrimination and victimhood from these businesses are disingenuous. UTV outfitters have known since day one that the law allowing them on our streets is controversial, with some sort of regulation inevitable.
While off-roading does have a long history in the Moab area, UTVs do not. They are a new phenomenon that has no historic precedent. UTV manufacturers admit that these machines are not intended for use on city streets. It is only through a loophole in our state’s legislation that these business owners have taken an opportunity to exploit our community to make a buck, meanwhile degrading our town and public lands. When a business is harmful to the public health and wellbeing of a community, the business is not the victim, the community is. We would compare it to tobacco companies claiming hardship for indoor anti-smoking laws. During a year when many local businesses have had true hardship due to the pandemic, the data shows that UTV rentals had record-breaking numbers last summer and fall. Hence the resulting explosion of complaints from local residents and visitors. We urge the city to rethink an approach to regulation that can look forward towards a healthy living situation for everyone.
A few thoughts:
- Limiting UTVs to certain streets will only concentrate the impact in unlucky neighborhoods.
- Please leave Jeep rentals out of the regulatory language. Jeeps are quiet and practically invisible at this point. They tend to go slow and stay on trails.
- It is a farce to claim that only private users are the problem. Unsupervised rentals cause noise issues in town and damage on the trails due to a lack of oversight, education or accountability.
- Consider allowing fleet size expansion for guided tours only, with the stipulation that newly registered vehicles must either be electric or equipped with special mufflers to make them quieter. By incentivizing guided tours, we will add jobs, increase education and accountability, and limit driving to and from the trailhead. Too many rental vehicles are being used as a “go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle” around town at all hours.
- Limit fleet size expansion for unsupervised rentals, requiring any replacement vehicles to be electric or modified muffler for sound.
- Give a time frame for UTV outfitters to phase out their fleet to electric or quieter vehicles.
- Please focus efforts on policy to permit only locally registered UTVs on our streets, while requiring out-of-town UTVs to be trailered to trailheads (they got them here with a trailer in the first place).
- Please lobby for SB168 to stick with limited 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. hours. It is becoming impossible to enjoy an evening outside or even have a conversation, let alone sleep with the windows open.
Kristen Hayes and Mike Bassett