Rental agencies adapt to two-stroke ban |

Rental agencies adapt to two-stroke ban

by Andy Bourelle

Even though a ban will be in place, there will be personal watercraft on Lake Tahoe this summer. And it won’t just be people violating the rules.

Bob Hassett, manager of the Timber Cove Marina on South Shore, received a shipment of Polaris watercraft this week, currently the only model using a two-stroke engine that is allowed indefinitely on Lake Tahoe. He plans to have 24 of them available for renting this summer.

“I think the technology will be really superior – how they operate and how little they’re going to pollute,” Hassett said. “It’s such a clean technology. It’s the way we want to go.”

Rental concessionaires have been impacted by the ban in a variety of ways. The primary problem is the financial burden.

“Basically, the effect will be the cost of turning over the whole fleet. There will be some economic costs. I think we’ll be able to get through it,” Hassett said. “We’re glad Polaris was able to offer this clean model. We’re glad we have the opportunity to provide the cleanest machine.”

Mark Sentyrz, owner of Kings Beach Aqua Sports and Lighthouse Water Sports in Tahoe City, said the cost of buying the numerous new craft has had significant financial impact on him. To compound problems, now that older models are banned, it’s nearly impossible to sell his older craft. He used to get a 60- to 80-percent return on them.

“I’ve got a lot of machines I have not been able to get rid of,” Sentyrz said. “I’m having a hell of a time, because it’s a ripple effect from what TRPA did.”

Bill Chernock, vice president of the company that operates Zephyr Cove Resort, said the business there spent about $325,000 on new personal watercraft, an expense that likely would have been spread out over three years without the ordinance.

He said the company did not mind updating its fleet. However, it was frustrating that the regulation wasn’t finalized until March of this year, only months before the ban goes into effect.

“I think we’re pretty indicative of the business community. We all understand our success in business is tied to our success in keeping Lake Tahoe as pristine as possible. We don’t have a problem complying when the regulations are straightforward,” Chernock said. “That’s really what the (watercraft) community was saying all along. Settle on a regulation. Tell us what to do, and we’ll go make it happen.”

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