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Monday, February 28, 2005
Supervisors may consider passing new ordinances, beef up enforcement

VICTORVILLE — The popularity of off-road vehicles is forcing the county to beef up enforcement of the rules, and perhaps initiate the drafting of new regulations.

San Bernardino County may join a growing trend among High Desert municipalities to clamp down on what some residents consider a nuisance by passing new ordinances and beginning beefed-up enforcement of off-road vehicle riders illegally riding on private property in the next few months.

The stricter controls are coming on the heels of the city of Hesperia's recent ordinance, which essentially bans off-road vehicles from residential neighborhoods.

The town of Apple Valley is also in the process of developing its own local controls, and neighboring Riverside County is in the process of drafting new ordinances to govern off-road vehicle use.

"In a general sense the supervisor's office is looking at a variety of options for dealing with the increased complaints and the activities causing those complaints," said Brad Mitzelfelt, chief of staff for First District Supervisor Bill Postmus. "It seems that there is more concern than ever, particularly in the areas of the desert that there is illegal trespassing going on with off-highway vehicles."

The county is considering not only beefing up enforcement of current rules and regulations governing the use of off-road vehicles, but also strengthening laws dealing with private property and noise nuisances, said Randy Scott, division chief for advance planning.

"The supervisor's office is very interested in developing something that is more enforceable and I think it is complaint driven," Scott said. "We are looking at what may be a practical way of dealing with it.

"Mostly from our point of view it is from a land-use and a nuisance standpoint — probably from a noise nuisance."

The other aspect, he said, would be trespassing.

Ultimately, what the new codes will look like depends on the available manpower and finances to enforce, he said. It is yet to be decided if code enforcement or the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department would be the lead agency for enforcement.

Changes in the law, Scott said, would make it easier to prosecute violators.

"Enforcement is as important, if not more important, as whatever codes are on the books," Mitzelfelt said.

During the drafting of new ordinances the county will be cooperating with the Bureau of Land Management, the USDA Forest Service and the State Parks division, Mitzelfelt said.

"Supervisor Postmus will be discussing this with the desert district manager for the Bureau of Land Management, Linda Hanson," Mitzelfelt said.

The increased enforcement will come at a cost, mostly for the extra manpower required to observe infractions and then to apprehend those breaking the rules.

Mitzelfelt said he had no estimates for what those costs to the county might be.

LeRoy Standish may be reached at 951-6277. or [email protected].
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