LAKESIDE — The Lakeside City Council voted 5-2 in favor of a resolution authorizing ATV riders to use a designated trail, allowing travel back and forth inside city limits to Spinreel Campground.
On June 23, Councilors Debbie Rose, Danny Gonsalves, Shauleen Higgins and Alan Pointer, and Mayor James Edwards voted in favor of the resolution. Councilors Mike Smith and Tim Miller voted against it.
Now the issue goes before the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's All-Terrain Vehicle Highway Access Routes Advisory Committee, which is soliciting public comments on the proposed ATV access route.
The proposed segment of Spinreel Road is a 1/2-mile stretch that runs from the U.S. Highway 101 overpass to Airport Way. If designated, the segment would provide ATV access between Lakeside and the Spinreel dunes.
The issue has been ongoing and controversial among residents for some time, to the point that recently some businesses and individuals said they've been harassed and even threatened when they put up signs in their yards in favor of the ATV route.
Following a survey by the city, it appears residents who responded are split on the matter almost evenly.
Proponents say allowing ATV riders, both residents and visitors, to drive to and from Spinreel Campground would boost the economy — especially needed this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to shutter for the past three months. If riders could come into town, they'd eat at local establishments and spend time and money in town.
Opponents are concerned about enforcement and say ATV riders, especially those from out of the area, do not obey speed limits or noise regulations and have in the past exhibited rude and dismissive behavior toward residents. Some fear for their safety, especially those who walk in city limits.
Others have concerns over whether local law enforcement agencies have the officers available to regulate riders and enforce the rules. Lakeside does not have a police department and citizens have turned down several levies to fund one. So enforcement falls to the Coos County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and North Bend Police Department — which has staffing issues of its own.
At the June 23 special meeting to discuss and vote on the ordinance, people spoke in favor and against the proposal and several letters received were read into the record by Interim City Manager Loree Pryce and city councilors.
There were comments from those against the proposed ordinance saying, "You're inviting trouble, where is your concern for the community?" "My primary concern is non-compliance — this ordinance is unenforceable," "This initiative ... lowers my property value," to comments from those who support the ordinance.
A resident of Rockaway Beach said he and his family have traveled all over for family vacations with their ATVs and enjoy the places they've been that allow riders to go into town.
"We ride into town for lunch and it's quite an adventure for the kids," he said. "I'd love to be able to do that same in Lakeside. There's nine of us and we'd (probably) eat lunch and dinner."
Edwards said the next step is for OPRD to take public comment and recommend a decision to the Oregon Department of Transportation by mid-August. A meeting was held on the topic with the Coos County Board of Commissioners and the Coos County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, June 25, which Edwards said was discouraging.
"They didn't seem quite in favor as I thought they were," he said.
But Edwards' understanding is that the commission doesn't have to agree or approve the proposal. Lakeside has jurisdiction over roads within city limits and ODOT has jurisdiction over the old state Highway 101, which the proposed trail will utilize to get over to Spinreel.
Edwards said the county shares a boundary with the privately owned Osprey Point, which the city of Lakeside hopes to include in the ATV trail. The city also hopes to utilize the county park as a staging area for ATVs, which the Board of Commissioners did not appear to be in favor of doing.
"The county will talk about this amongst themselves and get back to us," Edwards said.
A public conference call/webinar is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, and will feature an overview of the proposed access route and more information about the ATV Highway Access Routes program.
The public is invited to listen to the call or view the presentation:
- Listen only: dial 1 (631) 992-3221, access code ID: 975-980-064.
- Listen and view web presentation: pre-register online
"We're in a wait-and-see mode and there's nothing we can do right now," Edwards said.
The ordinance approved on Tuesday will sunset on Dec. 31 of this year. At that time, a vote will have settled the issue either way. Citizens have asked the City Council to put the issue on the ballot in the November General Election. The council will propose two ballot measures, which must be filed by Aug. 15. One will ask voters whether they approve the proposed ATV trail and one will ask whether they will allow ATV usage on the streets of Lakeside.
"That's what the citizens wanted, so we'll do that," Edwards said of the ballot measures.
Edwards said part of the reason he and some council members have pushed the proposed ATV trail is because citizens complain the council doesn't do anything.
"We as a council need to move forward," Edwards said. "We're doing what the majority of us feel is the right thing to do. We feel it will be good for the economy. Of course, that remains to be seen, but we're hoping it will have a positive impact."
Edwards said he's studied similar ATV ordinances that have been approved in other states and cities in Oregon, most of them with positive results.
"It's not like we're reinventing the wheel," he said. "We're just trying to keep up with the times."