All-terrain and utility-task vehicles will be allowed on city streets before the end of the month.
Walla Walla City Council voted Wednesday five to one in favor of adopting an ordinance allowing ATVs and UTVs nearly everywhere in town.
Sections of four roadways inside city limits are excluded, including Heritage Road west of Myra Road, Lower Waitsburg Road north of U.S. Highway 12, and Mill Creek and Harbert roads east of the former Pennbrook/Illahee property, according to city documents.
Resident John Keithley requested at the end of August that City Council adopt an ordinance allowing the operation of ATVs and UTVs on city streets, according to a staff report.
Over 25 members of the community came to support the ordinance during City Council’s work session on Monday. They hoped the ordinance would pass so they could drive their vehicles to the grocery store and gas station, use them to plow snow and transport them to work without needing a trailer.
Washington recognizes ATVs and UTVs as legal to drive on all roads with speed limits under 35 if allowed by city ordinance and if the vehicles are properly licensed and registered and have on- and off-road license tabs.
The vehicle must be equipped with headlights, taillights, brake lights, reflectors, two rearview mirrors, a horn, a windshield and windshield wipers (for UTVs only), spark arrester, muffling device and seat belts (for UTVs only). No one under 5 years old may ride the vehicle.
Many cities in Washington, including Dayton, Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Pullman, Cashmere, Leavenworth, Aberdeen, Ephrata, East Wenatchee and Chelan, have adopted a similar ordinance. Kennewick allows only UTVs on city streets.
Owners of these vehicles made claims Wednesday night about why these vehicles should be allowed on Walla Walla streets. They assured City Council that the ATVs and UTVs require a muffler that limits noise, and that they are more economical, produce less emissions and are easy on roads.
The Council was told by members of the community that some of these vehicles go over the maximum requirements of 2,000 pounds, and the wheels were a maximum length of 110 inches, but they can still be insured, licensed and registered.
Councilman Jerry Cummins proposed raising the age limit to 18 instead of 16, which appealed to Councilman Steve Moss. Councilman Riley Clubb disagreed, saying: “I believe you can drive a motorcycle at 16; I don’t understand.”
Five Council members agreed with Clubb and decided to keep the age limit to 16. Councilman Steve Moss opposed Wednesday’s vote.
The City Council voted to approve the ordinance allowing both ATVs and UTVs with maximum weight of 3,000 pounds and maximum length of 120 inches to drive on Walla Walla roads. Only a driver’s license is required. The ordinance will go into effect within two weeks.
Keithley said after the meeting that he is very excited to drive his UTV on the road to “feel like a kid again.”
“They are so fun to drive. Everyone in the neighborhood that’s driving them is just having so much fun laughing and waving as they pass by, it’s great for the community,” he said.