The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a resolution that will ban alcohol on the banks of the Truckee River from July 1 through July 6 each year.
At Tuesday’s meeting in Kings Beach, board members also voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that will include Chambers Landing Beach on Lake Tahoe at Homewood in the Fourth of July weekend alcohol ban.
Since 2008, Placer County has prohibited the possession of open alcohol containers during the Fourth of July weekend alongside the river from Lake Tahoe to Alpine Meadows. The ban was a response to alcohol-related problems created by the many rafters who descend on the river over the holiday weekend.
County Code generally prohibits alcohol from designated beach areas, but does not restrict alcohol at Chambers Landing Beach.
This year, the Sheriff’s Office is seeking to extend the ban to Chambers Landing from July 1 through July 6. Holiday-weekend crowds at the beach have grown larger over the past few years because of the recognition that open alcoholic containers are allowed there, but not on the Truckee River.
In a report to the board, Sheriff Edward N. Bonner noted that the U.S. Forest Service has primary law enforcement responsibility for Chambers Landing, but does not have the manpower to maintain a presence at the beach during the Fourth of July weekend.
In past years, the Truckee River ban remained in effect throughout the Fourth of July weekend, but the dates covered by the ban changed from year to year based on the day of the week the holiday fell on.
At Tuesday’s meeting in Kings Beach, the board approved the Sheriff’s Office’s request to provide for the ban to remain in force from July 1 through July 6 each year. The goal is to make it easier to notify the public and to encourage compliance by having the ban on the same days of the month each year.
Board Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery, North Lake Tahoe’s representative on the Board of Supervisors, said the alcohol ban appears to have strong support. “Frankly, everyone is very supportive of this because it has been such a huge improvement over years past,” she said. “I look forward to a peaceful Fourth of July.”
The Truckee River ban prohibits possession of open alcoholic containers on both sides of the river from its outfall at Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City to the upstream edge of the Alpine Meadows Bridge during the holiday weekend. The ban extends three feet up from the river’s high water mark on each bank, including islands and bridges. The Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City is the only bridge excluded from the ban.
State law bans the possession of alcoholic beverages on the river and any of its islands during the Fourth of July weekend. The state has jurisdiction over the river itself, because it is considered a navigable waterway.
Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Ausnow told the board Tuesday the Truckee River ban has been successful, noting that last year the number of arrests for alcohol-related and other offenses over the holiday weekend was down dramatically from previous years.
Responding to a question, he emphasized that Placer County will use press releases, signage and other means to make sure the public is aware of the alcohol ban this year.
Placer County established its ban after years of alcohol-related problems on the river, including driving under the influence, being drunk in public, indecent exposure, fighting, and minors in possession of alcohol.
Violations of the ban are punishable by a fine not to exceed $150 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third violation occurring in any calendar year.