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No-wake compliance will be voluntary this year

Patrick McCartney

Even though the expanded no-wake zone in Lake Tahoe takes effect next week, the only enforcement of the new law for the next several months will be voluntary.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which adopted the law in June, has no enforcement powers of its own. And the local jurisdictions that surround the lake have not adopted matching ordinances that authorize their respective law enforcement officers to cite potential violators.

“Since we’re at the end of this boating season, we won’t be gearing up for enforcement until next summer,” said Jerry Wells, deputy executive director for the TRPA. “We will look for assistance from local law enforcement and the states over the winter.”

John Upton, an El Dorado County supervisor who is also on the TRPA board, said he was surprised when he learned the ordinance had no enforcement power.

“It simply fell by the wayside,” Upton said of actions that would have been required to allow enforcement of the new ordinance. “I hadn’t taken into account the fact that the no-wake rule would go into effect so soon. But even if we had begun the day following the decision, we couldn’t possibly have had anything in place by now anyway.”

The agency has not yet geared up any informational campaign either, said Pam Drum, the TRPA’s public information officer.

“We would simply ask people to be aware of the reasons behind the larger no-wake zone,” Drum said. “Some people do not come to Lake Tahoe for a motorized-watercraft experience. Either they are not on the lake at all, or are in a kayak, canoe or sailboat. We would ask people to use common sense, and know you’re far enough out from shore that you won’t bother people before you pick up your speed.”

People who violate provisions of the new no-wake zone law can be fined up to $5,000 a day.

This winter, the agency will seek out grants to develop an information campaign for next season, including the placing of signs at boat ramps, Drum added.


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