Town panel suggests lower speed limits, restricted hours
A town council subcommittee formed to address the problem of personal watercraft on Donner Lake will introduce a sweeping set of speed and time restrictions for all boats on the lake at the next council meeting on June 3.
“A wide variety of options were submitted from the public, ranging from ‘ban all motorized craft,’ to ‘do nothing,’ the report noted.
The committee is suggesting a measured approach to try to accommodate the very wide variety of interests surrounding this issue. Clearly, pollution, safety, personal rights and business interests are all at issue here.
Legally, it is also clear that regulations, like speed limits, must apply to all motorized watercraft, not just personal watercraft. These recommended rules are in addition to existing policies.”
The subcommittee report recommends that the town restrict lake use for all motorized craft between Memorial Day and Labor Day by establishing the following speed limits:
– On Saturdays (Saturdays and Sundays on holiday weekends) 35 mph from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There would be a 10 mph limit at all other times.
– On Sundays (except holiday weekends) 10 mph all day. On holiday weekends, a 10 mph limit would be enforced on the Monday following the weekend.
– If a holiday falls on a day other than a Monday, that holiday shall be treated the same as a Saturday – 35 mph from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A 10 mph limit would be enforced at all other times.
– On weekdays (except holiday Mondays) a 35 mph limit would be enforced – the current policy.
– Expand publicity related to the new regulations as widely as possible.
the subcommittee also recommended:
– Implementing increased lake rules awareness both at ramps and in lake rental outlets.
– Implementing the current permit provisions of the existing town ordinance placing a limit of 12 personal watercraft allowable through rental outlets and a requirement that fuel at rental outlets be MTBE-free.
– Instituting strict enforcement on the lake for all issues – give more tickets and less warnings.
“It is the committee’s feeling that after the implementation of the new rules, lake activity be constantly monitored and at the least, in October, the committee and council re-evaluate the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of these actions and adjust accordingly,” the report stated.
According to the report, the goal of the proposed policies is to reduce pollution, improve safety, continue to allow fishing and other low speed activities at all times, allow some personal watercraft and other motorized craft higher speed use, allow for more ‘tranquil’ hours on and around the lake, potentially encourage high speed users to frequent other less-regulated lakes and more actively penalize users who violate lake policies.
Any regulations approved by town council must be reviewed and certified by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, so it will take about 30-45 days for any new law to take effect upon approval.
Since the town must submit any proposed regulations to the state for approval, it is also sending in some other, more restrictive laws than those currently proposed in case they are necessary later.
The other submissions (which are not part of the current recommendation to council) include year-round speed limits, adopting the TRPA ban on two-stroke engines, limiting the number of boats on the lake and restricting motorized use on certain parts of the lake.
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