CALIFORNIA CITY — Mayor Chuck McGuire reopened a recurring debate in California City about whether the tens of thousands of off-road enthusiasts who flock to the city each year provide any benefit to the city and its residents.
“These OHV trails have not been good for the city as a whole. It has benefited a very small, selected group,” he said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
McGuire spoke in regard to an item under the Council’s consent agenda that would renew a 2008 resolution that designated an off-road trail on the east side of Neuralia Road extending from the off-road areas on the north side of the city into the city’s business district.
The current resolution expires on Aug. 31, and staff requested a new one to extend the designation another five years.
McGuire argued that when the trail was first designated, there were no businesses in the city’s northern reaches, but that now the commercial marijuana industry is arriving in the area. Additionally, riders do not follow the 10 mph posted speed limit on the trail and do not stay off public streets as required, he said.
“Off-road vehicles seem to be getting a little out of control in this area,” he said.
McGuire also said there is no documentation to support claims by proponents that the off-road visitors bring business.
“This city has grown and started to move forward. My feeling is that OHV should be kept in the desert,” he said. “If this is such a hot thing, then why doesn’t the city of Los Angeles, the city of San Francisco, San Bernardino do this, or any other city that’s in the state of California?”
“This is not benefiting the city as a whole. That’s the bottom line,” McGuire said.
The Council took no action on the item on Tuesday, instead tabling it and requesting the matter be brought back at a later date.
The next discussion should also be supported by maps of the trail and more information, the Council instructed.
“There’s various opinions about this,” Police Chief Eric Hurtado said, suggesting it may be best to hold off on a decision to allow time for businesses and residents to provide input.
Mayor Pro Tem Gene Stump argued in favor of some means of allowing riders into the city’s businesses, with controls on speed and where they may ride.
“All it does is a win-win for them and a win-win for the city,” he said.