Allow off-road vehicles in Omak

— All-terrain vehicles are back on the agenda.

This time, Omak city officials are considering a plan to allow off-road vehicles on city streets. Now that the downtown streetscape project is nearly complete, we think the time is right.

During the Omak City Council meeting Monday night, council members briefly discussed a draft ordinance that would allow ATVs on city streets. The proposed ordinance initially prohibited the vehicles on a portion of Main Street downtown, but council members suggested it should be an all or none proposal.

Smart move.

An all-or-none plan for ATVs is easier for law enforcement to enforce the rules of the road. And it’s easier for riders to understand.

Omak’s ordinance, like most, also requires the vehicles to be street legal and licensed.

City officials should be commended for their move toward allowing ATVs. As the major hub of commerce in Okanogan County, Omak is an important link for connecting ATV users to hotels, restaurants, homes and neighboring towns.

Omak won’t be the first city or town in our county to allow ATVs. Conconully, Okanogan, Riverside, Tonasket, Wauconda, Molson, Chesaw and already permit their use. And the county has an ever-increasing network of roads where the vehicles are legal. Even the Colville Confederated Tribes are allowing ATV use on some reservation roads.

As more communities allow ATVs on public roads, the tourism experience will be enhanced, commerce will be improved and safety will be bolstered. ATVs can also help alleviate parking issues. But more importantly, ATVs are part of our way of our rural life here in Okanogan County and should be allowed on most roads.

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