TAHOE CITY, CALIF. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed into law SB 1159, legislation that will ban the possession of open or closed containers of alcohol beverages on the Truckee River from its outflow at Tahoe City to the Alpine Meadows Bridge. The prohibition will be in effect over the holiday weekends of July 4, 5, 6, 2008, and July 3, 4, 5, 2009. This law, coupled with a similar Placer County ordinance enacted in May, will effectively ban possessing alcoholic beverage containers from three feet up from the high water mark on each side of the river and across the river itself, including all islands and bridges. The Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City is the only bridge excluded from the ban.
SB 1159 was introduced and carried by Sen. Dave Cox at the request of the Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz, whose fifth district includes the portion of the river affected by the new law. The county’s own ordinance bans the possession of an open container of alcohol or consumption of any alcoholic beverage within three feet of the water on both sides of the river, from the outfall at Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City to the upstream edge of the Alpine Meadows Bridge. Because SB 1159 was passed with an urgency clause, which means it required a two-thirds majority in both the California Senate and Assembly, it took effect as soon as the governor signed it.
Placer County can regulate the land along portions along the Truckee River. However, the state has jurisdiction over the actual river as it is considers a navigable waterway.
“I’m appreciative of Senator Cox for carrying this bill in the Legislature,” said Kranz. “I’m also appreciative of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors for passing the county’s new ordinance. We’ve had irresponsible alcohol use the past few years and it is our responsibility to keep this beautiful resource safe and clean for all to use.”
The Truckee River has played a central role in the summer recreation experience at North Lake Tahoe for decades, and is especially popular during the Fourth of July holiday, when thousands of rafters ride the river. Excessive consumption of alcohol along this portion of the river during peak holiday periods, however, created a public safety hazard, degraded the tourism experience, and had a negative impact on the environment. Over previous Fourth of July holidays, there was an alcohol-related death, and there have been numerous arrests for driving under the influence (DUI), being drunk in public, indecent exposure and minors in possession of alcohol. Additionally, there were numerous automobile collisions that resulted in an arrest for DUI. The voluminous amount of trash and debris left behind in the river and along the banks by rafters is a safety and environmental hazard and has been expensive to remove.