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San Francisco bans jet skis from bay waters

Andy Bourelle

The banning of motorized watercraft may be a hot issue at Lake Tahoe – but it’s not the only place jet skis are under scrutiny.

San Francisco now has the toughest ordinance in the United States banning personal watercraft from Bay Area waters, according to Russell Long, executive director of the Bluewater Network, a spinoff of the San Francisco-based Earth Island Institute which has been involved in Lake Tahoe’s watercraft issues.

The San Francisco County Board of Supervisors approved a ban on Jet Skis Monday, Long said, creating a 1,200-foot-wide, 7-mile-long “no-Jet Skiing zone” from Ocean Beach around the peninsula to Candlestick Park. Jet skiing also has been banned around some area islands.

“The interesting thing about this regulation is that it should serve as a model ordinance for the rest of the U.S.,” Long said. “If Tahoe were to adopt this ordinance, it would be legally bulletproof.”

Also, the board intends to recommend other Bay Area counties adopt similar regulations.

Long said the supervisors approved the regulation because of safety and water pollution concerns, conflicts with other recreation users and problems with wildlife disturbances.

In researching the issue, Long said, officials found that Jet Skis created almost nine times the pollution of other two-stroke outboard motors.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has effected a ban on two-stroke engines, effective June 1, 1999. However, the agency recently announced the ban would be replaced with an emissions-based ordinance. The regulation TRPA staff intends to propose to the board of governors in December will focus on emission standards rather than specific engine types. Officials have said a regulation on emissions will be easier to support scientifically as well as easier to enforce.

A report will be presented to the TRPA governing board in November. A public hearing is scheduled in December to allow TRPA to react to any new information, such as new standards proposed by the California Air Resources Board, that it receives prior to the June 1, 1999 prohibition date.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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