The Moab City Council should be congratulated on passing a noise ordinance during their April 27 meeting. This is a good start but not enough. On April 20, the Grand County Commission passed both noise and business regulations. The City Council needs to follow suit and pass ordinances that will regulate UTV businesses within city limits.
The proliferation of UTVs has had deleterious consequences for many Moab citizens while providing a boon for a specific group of tourists. Likewise, a few companies have benefited while others have had to explain to their customers why the place they came to experience peace and quiet is so loud and clogged.
I see the situation as similar to that of the city and county waiting to pass lodging moratoriums (and then ordinances) until there was a crisis. When the moratorium was enacted, building plans that had been approved were exempt. That exemption resulted in a 30% increase in hotel rooms. I, nor anyone I have talked with, realized the impact that that 30% increase would have on the place we call home. From a sprawling mega-complex on North Main to industrial hotels scattered from north to south along Highway 191, the landscape has been forever changed. I can’t imagine the impact of what another few years of unregulated UTV rentals will have on our valley. It is crucial that UTV legislation that fully addresses the issues be passed now rather than later.
UTV noise is a problem but so are the numbers. It is often hard to turn onto city streets because of the UTV traffic. I have seen increasing numbers of UTVs on the highway between Arches and Highway 313, where they present a hazard as they jockey for positions amid semis and SUVs. Unfortunately, many of the people driving UTVs have a “vacation mentality” and neither obey posted laws nor the dictates of common decency. Real noise control requires that the noise from individual vehicles be reduced but also that the number of vehicles be reduced. Finally, UTVs are hard on the fragile desert environment when off road.
Enacting legislation now that caps the number of rental companies, provides incentives for low-emission vehicles, encourages guided touring, and requires tow-to-trail during high-use periods will help to make Moab more livable now and tomorrow.