SB 894 passes state legislature
For the information of those who have been following SB 894, here is an excerpt from the analysis prepared by Assembly Transportation Committee that describes in layman's terms what the current amended version of the bill does:
This bill has been amended to delay implementation to January 1, 2027, in order to accommodate DMV IT programming updates that are underway. With these amendments, the bill is substantially similar to this bill that was heard in the Assembly. In 1994, ARB adopted emissions standards applicable to OHVs, which were highly polluting. Consistent with ARB's regulation, DMV would issue a registration sticker to an OHV whose owner had paid a $52 biennial registration fee (a $33 special fee to fund OHV trail maintenance, a $7 service fee to cover DMV's administrative costs, an $8 fee to cover the California Highway Patrol's enforcement costs and a $4 fee to fund local governments). DMV would issue a green registration sticker to an owner of an OHV manufactured to meet ARB's emission standards.
However, DMV would issue a red registration sticker to the owner of an OHV not manufactured to meet California's emissions standards. While "green sticker" OHVs could operate on public OHV lands year round, ARB regulation restricted the operation of "red sticker" OHVs on certain public lands when local air quality was particularly poor, typically the summer months. ARB instituted its "red sticker program" as a compromise with industry to allow it time to develop, manufacture, market and sell OHVs that complied with California's emission rules. In a recent assessment of the red sticker program, ARB noted the majority of off-highway motorcycles sold in California are red sticker vehicles with no emissions controls. According to ARB, noncompliant off-road motorcycles emit pollution (both from their tailpipes and as evaporation from fuel tanks) 1.5 times to 25 times higher than emissions-compliant models. Before approving the 2019 red sticker program amendments, ARB staff estimated that, by 2031, approximately 60% of smog forming pollution from off-highway motorcycles would be associated with red sticker OHVs. For these reasons, ARB amended its regulation in 2019 to end the red sticker program. ARB anticipates substantial reductions in air pollutants from OHVs as a result. Or, to use a particularly convoluted but illustrative example included in one ARB report, by the year 2031, the amount of air pollution reduced by elimination of the red sticker program will eventually be roughly equivalent to the emissions produced by driving a 2018-model-year passenger vehicle around the circumference of the earth more than 2,300 times every day. ARB's regulation still allows an owner of an older noncompliant OHV to register it with DMV. However, an owner of a noncompliant OHV model year 2022 or newer will be unable to register the OHV with DMV, which means the vehicle would not be allowed to operate on public lands. Many OHV motorcycle enthusiasts prefer the performance and other characteristics of noncompliant OHVs to their cleaner counterparts. This is especially true of those who ride OHVs in professional and nonprofessional competitive events. This bill provides a way for the owner of a non-compliant OHV to register that OHV with DMV and receive not a red sticker, but a competition sticker. Registration would allow financing, insurance and tracking by law enforcement of such vehicles, while a competition sticker would allow the OHV to operate on public lands solely in organized racing or competitive events upon a closed course. Presumably, only a small number of OHVs will be sold, housed and registered as competition OHVs in California, given the restrictions on operating competition OHVs on the public lands on which many OHVs trails and parks are located. This, in turn, should minimize the harm to air quality caused by these noncompliant vehicles. Should it turn out that the number of competition OHVs registered in California is especially large and growing, the Legislature may need to revisit the policy of allowing registration of competition OHVs that do not comply with California's air quality regulations. Red Sticker Sunset. In July 2013, CARB began conducting an assessment of the red sticker program. CARB subsequently worked closely with industry stakeholders and other state agencies to develop regulatory amendments in 2019 to end the Red Sticker Program in 2021. CARB notes in its information digest pertaining to the 2019 amendments, "The red sticker program was envisioned as a temporary measure to provide stability in the market while manufacturers developed a full range of OHRV that complied with California's emissions standards. This temporary measure has now been in effect for more than twenty years, and the majority of off-highway motorcycles (OHMC) sold in California are red sticker vehicles with no emissions controls."
End of an Era. According to the author, the expiration of CARB's red sticker program has created confusion about which OHVs can be registered and reduced revenue for OHV programs. This bill is intended to clarify the rules by creating a new OHV competition sticker program with specified fees. Beginning in 2024 those fees are a $9 fee payable to the DMV for the issuance or renewal of specified vehicle identification and a fee of $42 for the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund. According to the Author "SB 894 will ensure revenue streams continue for critical environmental work, as well as continuing all the advantages of identification that come with the program—including allowing law enforcement to trace these types of vehicles for public safety purposes. The economic impacts of OHV competitions are significant to rural communities, and this bill will help communities with their economic recovery during these challenging times. SB 894 will permit competition OHVs to continue their long history in a prosperous sport with safe practices."
Arguments in Support The Motorcycle Industry Council writes, "SB 894 offers a reasonable solution that ensures continued public land access for competition and practice purposes. The bill requires certain competition OHVs to be equipped with a muffler and spark arrester to address fire risks and noise pollution when operating on public lands. Revenue streams from these registrations will continue, law enforcement will be able to properly identify vehicles, and owners will have the necessary documentation for finance and insurance."
Arguments in Opposition None on file.