Chapter 9.52
OFF-ROAD MOTOR VEHICLES

Sections:

9.52.010    Purpose of provisions.

9.52.015    Definitions.

9.52.020    Vehicles to be licensed.

9.52.030    Use—General location restrictions.

9.52.040    Use—Exceptions to location restrictions.

9.52.045    Use—Special location and use prohibitions.

9.52.050    Equipment requirements.

9.52.060    Offensive noise.

9.52.070    Violation—Penalty.

9.52.010 Purpose of provisions.

It is necessary to regulate the operation and use of motorcycles, motorbikes, motorscooters and similar vehicles on public and private property throughout the County in order to prevent damage to plants, wildlife, wildlife habitat, water resources, historic sites, soil erosion and property damage, fire hazards, and noise pollution. Such regulations are necessary to protect the public welfare, public peace and safety. [Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1887, 1973; prior code § 10.50.010].

9.52.015 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

“Accelerated erosion” means erosion caused by a human-induced alteration of the vegetation, land surface, topography or run-off pattern. Evidence of accelerated erosion is often indicated by exposed soils, gullies, rills, sediment deposits or slope failure caused by human activities such as the operation of an off-road vehicle.

“Off-road vehicle” means any motorcycle, motorbike, motorscooter or other similar vehicle, including, but not limited to, any vehicle subject to off-highway vehicle identification pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 38012(a).

“Planning Director” means the Director of the Planning Department or his or her designee.

“Responsible person” means any person who, by the operation of an off-road vehicle, creates a condition which causes, or is likely to cause, accelerated erosion. If the operator of the off-road vehicle creating the condition cannot be identified, the owner of the land where such condition exists shall be considered the responsible person, but only if the land owner has knowingly allowed any person to operate an off-road vehicle in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, accelerated erosion on the owner’s property, if that property is within an area designated as a sensitive habitat, as defined by Chapter 16.32 SCCC. [Ord. 4151 § 1, 1991; Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991].

9.52.020 Vehicles to be licensed.

All off-road vehicles shall be licensed in accordance with current State regulations. [Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1887, 1973; prior code § 10.50.050].

9.52.030 Use—General location restrictions.

Except as provided in SCCC 9.52.040, it is unlawful for any person to operate any off-road vehicle on any property in the unincorporated area of the County other than on public or private roads and other areas specifically designated by Federal, State or County governmental agencies for use by off-road vehicles. [Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1887, 1973; prior code § 10.50.020].

9.52.040 Use—Exceptions to location restrictions.

The provisions of SCCC 9.52.030 shall not apply to:

(A)    Owners, tenants or lawful occupants of real property and members of their immediate family, while operating such vehicles upon their own property;

(B)    Invitees of any of the persons designated above, provided they:

(1)    Have in their possession written permission to operate such vehicles upon such property; or

(2)    Are in the immediate company of a person entitled to use such property;

(C)    Use of such vehicles in the course of a bona fide governmental or law enforcement operation;

(D)    The use of an off-road vehicle as part of the agricultural operations conducted on any land designated within the Santa Cruz County general plan for commercial agricultural use. [Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1887, 1973; prior code § 10.50.030].

9.52.045 Use—Special location and use prohibitions.

(A)    Other than on public or private roads or other areas specifically designated by Federal, State or County governmental agencies for use by off-road vehicles, it is unlawful for any person to operate an off-road vehicle within 300 feet of any occupied dwelling or residence, unless the dwelling or residence affected is on property which the operator is entitled to use pursuant to SCCC 9.52.040.

(B)    It is unlawful for any person to operate an off-road vehicle in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, accelerated erosion within an area designated as a sensitive habitat, as defined by Chapter 16.32 SCCC.

(C)    It is unlawful for any property owner to grant permission to, or knowingly allow, any person to operate an off-road vehicle in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, accelerated erosion on the owner’s property if that property is within an area designated as a sensitive habitat, as defined by Chapter 16.32 SCCC. [Ord. 4151 § 2, 1991; Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991].

9.52.050 Equipment requirements.

(A)    It is unlawful for any person to operate an off-road vehicle on any real property in the unincorporated area of the County, unless such vehicle is at all times equipped with a spark arrester of a type approved by the United States Forest Service.

(B)    It is unlawful for any person to operate an off-road vehicle on any private property within the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, not including property which is subject to noise standards established by the Vehicle Code (i.e., fire trails, logging roads, service roads, regardless of surface composition, or other roughly graded trails and roads, upon which vehicular travel by the public is permitted), when the vehicle is not equipped with a muffler, silencer or other noise-suppression device, which limits exhaust noise emissions to not more than 97 dBA, when measured from a distance of 20 inches using test procedures established by the Society of Automotive Engineers under Standard J-1287. No muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device; nor shall any person modify the exhaust system of such off-road vehicle in any manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of such vehicle above that permitted by this chapter; nor shall any such off-road vehicle be operated in a manner resulting in the escape of excessive smoke, flame, gas, oil, or fuel residue; nor shall such off-road vehicle be so operated unless the exhaust system, including the manifold, muffler and exhaust pipes, shall be so constructed as to be capable of being maintained in a reasonably gas-tight condition; nor shall such off-road vehicle be driven or moved if the filling spout for any tank is closed or partly closed with a plug of wood, rags or other combustible material.

(C)    Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall make any and all improvements to the off-road vehicle necessary to correct the violation. Proof of compliance must be obtained from the citing agency within 30 days of the conviction. [Ord. 4151 § 3, 1991; Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991; Ord. 1887, 1973; prior code § 10.50.040].

9.52.060 Offensive noise.

(A)    It is unlawful for any person to operate any off-road vehicle in a manner which creates noise which unreasonably disturbs or annoys any person with ordinary sensitivities. When determining if there has been a violation of this section, the following may be taken into consideration: The ambient noise level on surrounding properties; the topography and terrain of the property where the off-road vehicle is being operated, and the topography of the surrounding properties; the number of off-road vehicles being operated at any one time; the hours of off-road vehicle operation; the duration of off-road vehicle use; the proximity of the off-road vehicle use to occupied dwellings or residences; and the use and character of the property where the off-road vehicle is operated, as well as the character of the surrounding properties.

(B)    Operation of any off-road vehicle under any one or more of the following circumstances shall constitute a prima facie violation of this section; however, such circumstances are not intended to limit the activities which may be found to be a violation of this section:

(1)    Operation of any off-road vehicle after sunset or before 8:00 a.m.;

(2)    Operation of any off-road vehicle for more than two hours total on any single day. [Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991; Ord. 4000 § 1, 1989].

9.52.070 Violation—Penalty.

(A)    Any person knowingly and wilfully violating or causing or permitting the violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished in accordance with SCCC 1.12.030.

(B)    Except as provided in subsection (A) of this section, any person violating or causing or permitting the violation of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and shall be punished by a fine in accordance with SCCC 1.12.040; provided, however, that any offense which would otherwise be an infraction shall be a misdemeanor if a defendant has been convicted of three or more violations of this chapter within the 12-month period preceding the commission of the offense in the accusatory pleading. For this purpose, a bail forfeiture shall be deemed to be a conviction of the offense charged.

(C)    Whenever the Planning Director determines that a violation of SCCC 9.52.045(B) or (C) exists, the Planning Director may proceed against the responsible person with any enforcement or correction remedy available, including, but not limited to, those provided by Chapter 16.22 SCCC. [Ord. 4151 § 4, 1991; Ord. 4128 § 1, 1991].