On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill that adds regulations to off-road vehicles such as ATVs and racing motorcycles being used on public land.
Senate Bill 1024, authored by Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee), would change vehicle exemptions for competition off-highway vehicles. Under SB 1024, the competition Red Sticker program currently run by the California Air Resources Board would not end and would simply be replaced by a Competition Sticker program run by California State Parks. The use of such vehicles on public land would continued to be permitted by the bill, but with additional restrictions such as competition cards, correct off-road identification, and include mandatory noise-reducing parts such as spark arresters, mufflers, or silencers on vehicles to limit noise when on public lands.
The Red Sticker program will expire in 2021 with no current program to replace it. If SB 1024 is not passed, off-road vehicle use on public lands would not be legal after 2021.
“Off-Highway competition is a beloved sport with a long history in California, and SB 1024 will save it,” said Senator Jones on Wednesday in a press release. “This bill is the result of a great collaborative effort by all stakeholders including the off-highway vehicle community and the affected agencies. We look forward to continuing this collaboration as we move forward to protect this important sport for all Californians to enjoy.”
Off-road enthusiasts have also remarked on the importance of the bill.
“This is a big industry in California,” said Matt Hollander, who rides and races ATVs in four states. “And it’s very important to the community that we be allowed to continue.”
“Some of these races bring in a lot of people, and food and lodging alone can really help support businesses.And even now, with COVID-19 encouraging spacing, this is a big thing to have going because we can socially distance easily while doing this while also supporting many local and American businesses. Gas, food, parts, garages just to name a few.”
“And also, this is fun for us, and since we operate legally in mostly deserted land, we don’t bother many people.”
“We need a way to save this for everyone who is just adventuring out on a bike or are racing ATVs in a competition bringing a ton a business to struggling small towns.”
SB 1024 has met little opposition, with committees voting unanimously for the bill to pass.
“They’ve kept noise reduction as that assuages many noise complaints of the past, and they have made their point on helping local economies that are usually struggling, especially now with COVID,” noted parts supplier Jerry Katz, who supplies many off-road racers and enthusiasts with parts in Southeast California. “It’s hard to find anything wrong with the bill because it makes all sides happy, or at least all right with it.”
SB 1024 will now be sent to the Assembly for hearings where it is widely accepted to be passed.