LAKESIDE – During the March city council meeting, Lakeside residents gave their feedback on a proposal to allow limited access to city roads for ATVs to access the dunes.
Lakeside resident Rob Ward encouraged the motion be placed on the regular ballot, so the whole community could have a say rather than the city council making the decision on its own. He added that there should be a sunset period built in so that, if it turns out not to be working as people hope, it’s easier to do away with.
Ward also noted that many people seem to have different ideas of what the proposal could do, but not all of them seem possible with how the draft is written. He suggested that, when it comes time to make a decision, a more cohesive plan is ready that makes clear what will and won’t be possible.
One of the big drivers from people wanting to approve the proposal is the idea that it would bring money into Lakeside. Ken Ireland, one of the main petitioners, said there isn’t really a way to prove that the proposal would do for Lakeside what he envisioned. However, he added that if a person Googles the economic impact of ATVs in a community, there’s plenty of examples of communities that had boosts in their economies after implementing similar systems.
“You would be hard pressed to find a single city where it did not increase the income of that city, it did not increase the businesses, everything we’re talking about,” Ireland said. “Google it, you’re going to find it.”
Ward pointed out that there are campsites and RV parks in Winchester Bay and near the Myrtlewood Gallery near North Bend, and people wouldn’t be as likely to come to Lakeside when those locations are available. However, Ireland noted that those campsites and parks are booked solid all summer, while Lakeside campgrounds have openings. By offering beach and community access without having to completely take a camp down, he feels it would raise the appeal of finding space in Lakeside.
“There’s a lot of money to be made on organized rides, with jeeps, side by sides, stuff like that,” said another resident of the potential appeals of the area.
Jim Cottington, a resident near Saunders Lake with family in Lakeside, is a member of a few ATV enthusiast groups. He said he didn’t think the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the area, adding that the ATV use areas are always busy.
“I’m all for it, and I know that everyone in my group is excited to see you do that,” he said. “They will come here, they’ll spend money.”
He added that the proposal would raise property values, since they would have access to the dunes – a point Ireland has also raised. Cottington recalled there was a big difference in property value depending on which side of U.S. Highway 101 the land is on.
Chris Barnette, with Osprey Point RV Resort, said he could confirm the petitioners’ assertions that allowing ATVs on city streets would be a good economic move, and that it wouldn’t be too disruptive to the community. He recalled times he visited cities that allowed ATVs, noting that the riders were respectful of the communities and followed the rules of the road.
“I was just amazed how respectful everyone was,” he said. “They know that if they break the law, they can lose their privilege to ride on the streets.”
Another consideration people have cited against the proposal was a question of enforcement. People have said there should be some form of law enforcement presence to make sure people are following the rules before such a proposal is approved.
However, Barnette said that passing the proposal could solve that too. He noted that law enforcement comes where the action is, and suggested that sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police, and other groups would make a point of being in Lakeside if there was more activity in the area, and people coming into town.
“When there’s action, there’s police,” he said. “Guess what, sheriff’s office would love to come here, state police would love to come here. They’re going to drive around more and more and more. There’s your police force and you didn’t even have to pay for it.”
City Manager Andrew Carlstrom said he has also received about 12 emails supporting the proposal in the 48 hours before the council meeting.