In an attempt to get ahead of what may be an "exploding" recreational activity, Sun Valley is pursuing restrictions on the use of restricted-plate vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles, on city streets.
The City Council held a public hearing on Thursday, June 16, on a proposed ordinance that would prohibit most restricted-plate vehicles—which include ATVs, utility-type vehicles, off-highway vehicles and certain motorbikes—on city streets. According to the draft ordinance, such vehicles pose a hazard to their drivers, other vehicles and pedestrians and create noise issues.
No members of the public spoke in favor of or against the proposal.
Idaho law does not allow such vehicles on state highways, but they are allowed on county roads, Forest Service roads and trails. They are allowed on city streets that have a 35 mph speed limit, unless the city has an ordinance prohibiting them, said Sun Valley Police Chief Cam Daggett.
"It's not a huge problem right now," he said. "But, in the recreation community, restricted-plate vehicles are the most increasing, exploding largest, recreational motor sport thing going."
The proposed ordinance takes into consideration the small trucks used by Sun Valley Co. that fall under the restricted-plate vehicle category. The idea is to restrict the use of restricted-plate vehicles for recreational travel on city streets, while allowing the resort business to continue to use those vehicles for job-related activities, according to a staff report.
The council discussed a fine of $100 or less, which is the low end of fines for traffic infractions.
"The point of this isn't really to generate money," Daggett said. "We always try to educate before we fine."
Councilwoman Joan Lamb questioned whether the ordinance was necessary, and whether it might dissuade people from recreating in the area.
"How serious of a problem is this?" she asked. "Maybe this is a much bigger problem than I'm aware of. But it just seems to me to be the wrong message to be sending at this particular time."
However, Councilman Nils Ribi said facilitating such vehicles' access to trails could hinder rather than help north valley recreation.
"It takes all the single-track trails that we have here and it destroys them by making them double tracks," he said. "It's the biggest problem that destroys really good recreation that we have here. And it's not what we want to have happen."
The council was scheduled to further discuss the matter at its June 21 meeting.
Rebecca Meany: firstname.lastname@example.org