CARB-Harassed Dealer: We Broke No Law

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California dealer Balz Renggli says the state’s Air Resources Board is wrongly accusing his store, Moto Forza in Escondido, of once marketing modified dirtbikes as streetbikes, then registering them for street use. The allegations led to a $90,000 settlement in April. (Read that story here.)

What really happened, Renggli says, is that the Department of Motor Vehicles insisted on registering unmodified Husqvarna dirtbikes as streetbikes. Moto Forza employees, he says, informed customers that the bikes were not street-legal, regardless of their registration.

CARB brought a lawsuit against Moto Forza in 2006 for units sold in 2004 and 2005.

“Even today, in 2009,” Renggli wrote in statement, “I can turn in a completely and correctly filled-out application for registration for a 2009 off-highway-only Husqvarna motorcycle, and the DMV will issue a license plate and street registration. We have to stop the DMV clerk every time and argue to make sure we receive an off-highway registration. So what this comes down to is that the CARB felt it had the right to extort money from us because we did not make sure that the DMV did their job correctly.”

Renggli also claims CARB misrepresented what happened when it issued a press release in August stating that Moto Forza had been “fined” $90,000 for street-registering dirtbikes by modifying them. CARB never fined Moto Forza, Renggli says, because the case never went to trial.

“We ended up settling the case as the legal costs to pursue the matter would have cost more than the settlement amount,” he says. “Unlike most other trials where the losing party has to cover the legal cost of the winning party, CARB has complete immunity. Even if we would have won the case in court, we would still have to pay our own legal costs, and that simply became financially not feasible.”

Click here to download a PDF of Renggli's entire statement.

Update: Since this story's posting, Paul Lima, owner of GP Motorcycles in San Diego, has sent to Dealernews a statement detailing a similar story. Click here to download Lima's statement.