Bitter differences between two sides over ban |

Bitter differences between two sides over ban

Just because the ban is finally here doesn’t mean all the hard feelings fueled by it have gone away.

“(The ordinance is) having a huge impact. It’s really hurting us,” said Mark Sentyrz, owner of Kings Beach Aqua Sports and Lighthouse Water Sports in Tahoe City. “I’m a young business guy, and I was hoping to make money with this some day. I did this because it was a source of family recreation. I still believe I do that. I believe the media as well as TRPA and environmental groups make it look like (watercraft rental concessions) are contributing to the degradation of Lake Tahoe. And I firmly believe we’re not.”

When the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency originally agreed upon the watercraft prohibition, the agency allowed two-stroke engines whose fuel is injected into the crankcase prior to entering the cylinder. That led Sentyrz to purchase numerous Bombardier Sea-Doos for the 1998 summer. In amending its ordinance in early 1999, however, TRPA realized the craft weren’t as clean-burning as the agency would have liked. In finalizing the ordinance in March, the board decided to allow the craft only for another three years.

Sentyrz was upset that he embraced TRPA’s ordinance “in good faith,” and the agency changed its mind.

Another frustration Sentyrz has is how TRPA’s research claims two-stroke motors are highly pollutant. Officials have said that two-cycle motors release as much as 25 percent of their gas directly into the water. That’s not the case, Sentyrz argues.

“I’m in the lake all day long, every day. When you drop a couple drops of of gas into the water you see a rainbow, a sheen. You don’t see that (around personal watercraft),” he said.

“All their numbers are built on assumptions. It’s one assumption after another assumption, piled on top of each other. It’s totally erroneous,” he added.

Sentyrz was one of the plaintiffs named in the suit against TRPA. He said he was satisfied with the settlement.

“It was the right thing to do. I’m upset we ever had to go to it. We had to do it because TRPA is so unreasonable to deal with. I think that’s why you’re going to continue to see these lawsuits,” he said.

Others were not satisfied with the settlement.

“As far as I’m concerned, they sold out on us,” said South Shore resident Robert Galvin.

He was a co-plaintiff in the suit and was “dropped out of the loop” prior to settlement. He was surprised to read about the settlement in the newspaper.

“I did not sign off on that suit … It was illegally settled,” he said.

Galvin said he has formed a 12-member group called BOAT made up of people who will intentionally violate TRPA’s ordinance.

“I do not ride Sea-Doos. I’m a sailor. That part has not been an issue with me. It’s a boating issue. If they are stepping into this, they could step into other boating rights,” Galvin said. “It wasn’t a two-cycle or Jet Ski issue to me. It’s the opening of the door by TRPA and the League to Save Lake Tahoe to start regulating boating on this lake.”

Galvin said he wanted to file another suit against the agency but couldn’t raise enough money. Now he wants to be cited and fight the regulation that way.

“We will go out and get their citation,” he said. “Then we will take it into the court system and strive to prove it unconstitutional, instead of taking it to civil court.”

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