Tahoe utility to support Truckee River alcohol ban | SierraSun.com

Tahoe utility to support Truckee River alcohol ban

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoJorg Dutschke of Truckee River Raft pulls deflated rafts from the Truckee River after they were left by rafters during last Fourth of July. During the height of rafting season, trash washes up on the shores of the Truckee River, including the trails operated by the Tahoe City Public Utility District.

Tahoe’s oldest government entity is lending its support to a proposed, limited alcohol ban on the Truckee River.

Board members of the Tahoe City Public Utility District decided to draft a letter of support for the proposed ordinance, which would grant Placer County officials the authority to ban alcohol consumption on the Truckee River between the Tahoe City outlet and Alpine Meadows bridge.

While drafting the letter, board members specified to staff to include limits on the ban, according to district General Manager Cindy Gustafson.

Support will come if county officials promise to limit the number of days alcohol would be banned to six or less per year, not require the district to be an enforcement arm for such a ban and give the board of directors a chance to give input annually to Placer County officials about the ban, Gustafson said.

The district not only has jurisdiction over network of trails that line the river but also oversees the popular rafting staging area within 64 Acres park. The district maintains the trails and the park including trash removal from the sites.

In a previous phone interview, Jennifer Merchant, Placer County’s Tahoe manager, explained that although the legislation allows Placer County to impose the ban during the summer months, the language is deliberate so officials would not have to come back year after year and “piecemeal” the legislation for each day they wanted a ban for.

“The legislation provides the board of supervisors with the authority and flexibility to make the call at peak times,” Merchant said. “For instance, last summer, Forth of July was on a Wednesday they would likely choose to make it just a one day ban…this year it is on a Friday [so] they may choose to [create] a three-day ban.”

At the utility district board meeting on March 21, Director Ron Treabess asked Merchant whether area store owners might consider not selling alcohol on certain days. Merchant replied that Placer County had not solicited support from such businesses because, she said, it was not the county’s place to impose alcohol consumption restrictions.

Merchant said supportive businesses include the River Ranch Lodge, the river’s two licensed rafting companies, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association as well as the U.S. Forest Service.

Merchant said officials in Chico are considering similar alcohol and rafting legislation.

The Truckee River ordinance is currently moving through the state capitol, and is known as Senate Bill 1159. It was authored by Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks.

Assembly Bill 951, a similar ban on the lower American River, passed both state houses in June 2007. Merchant said the Sacramento County board of supervisors impose alcohol bans during the Memorial Day, Forth of July and Labor Day summer holidays.

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