Boating agency wants to be clear on ordinance’s interpretation |

Boating agency wants to be clear on ordinance’s interpretation

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The California Department of Boating and Waterways has asked the state attorney general for an opinion on a new boating noise ordinance adopted by El Dorado County.

The ordinance will go into effect June 7 and limit the noise a motor can make to between 75 and 90 decibels, depending on the circumstance.

David Johnson, spokesman at the Department of Boating and Waterways, said the state already has a boating noise law, so his agency asked the state attorney about three weeks ago to determine if the ordinance creates a conflict.

“If it’s not in conflict, other counties can do the same thing,” he said. “But it would require a change in California law.”

Right now, according to the Harbors and Navigation Code, all boat engines on inland water must have mufflers and are limited to between 82 and 86 decibels at a distance of 50 feet from the boat, depending on the make of the motor.

In Nevada, there is no conflict between state and county rules because the regulations adopted by the Division of Wildlife match the boating laws of the state, said Fred Messmann, boating law administrator.

Johnson said the county ordinance will improve law enforcement’s ability to measure and enforce excessive boat noise, but his agency has asked the state attorney general for an opinion to clear up a “murky” area of the law.

“We want something in writing so we’re covered on this issue,” he said.

If the opinion says the ordinance and state law do conflict, the ordinance will still go into effect but Johnson said he expects there would be an effort to work out an agreement between the county and state.

The Department of Boating and Waterways may change its boat noise laws soon, he said, but not before the end of the summer.

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