Keep our waterways shared for all boaters

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Sign this petition in opposition of adding additional, potentially dangerous ordinances to Kootenai County Waterways.

Who: All boaters and towed water sports enthusiasts in and around Kootenai County, Idaho.

What: Kootenai County Commissioners have circulated a proposed “Waterways Restricted Zone Ordinance” for ALL waterways in Kootenai County. The proposed ordinance establishes no-excessive wake zones along the Spokane River and Little Twin Lake from 100 to 200 feet and establishes no-excessive wake zones on all other Kootenai County waterways between 200 and 300 feet. The Spokane River and Lower Twin Lake have a current no-wake zone of 100 feet, and the no-wake zone for all other county waterways is 200 feet.

When: The Kootenai County Commission is scheduled to meet on May 19, 2020 from 6 PM - 8 PM at 451 N Government Way Coeur d'Alene ID to vote on the proposed ordinance. Because of COVID-19, schedules can change. Please show up to voice your concerns!

Why: The definition of “excessive wake” is difficult to understand at its best, and entirely unenforceable at its worst. For example, a vessel operating “at the speed at which boats create the most wake, moving quickly and displacing the most water…” is a violation of the excessive wake ordinance. As we know, different boats displace different amounts of water at different speeds. There is no single standard that can be applied to all boats, which results in an arbitrary application of the law. This ordinance is akin to enforcing different speed limits on different automobiles because they have different engines, or one car looks faster than the other.

In addition, the proposed ordinance does not take into consideration the actual size of the wake, i.e., “operating a vessel at greater than no-wake speed, but not fast enough to cause the vessel to plane…” A small, low-powered boat operating at this speed may generate a small wake but will still be in violation of the ordinance if it is operating within the proposed no-excessive wake zone. Simply, the definition of excessive wake cannot be practically enforced as a standard for operating a vessel on waterways within Kootenai County, and will lead to an arbitrary application of the law with limited effectiveness to make waterways safer or to mitigate impacts on property.

Lastly, there is already an ordinance in place that has barely been enforced. This should be enforced before adding additional, potentially hazardous ordinances as this additional ordinance restricts even more of the space for boaters to boat safely along the Spokane River. This means that boaters have much less room to avoid each other in the narrow strip 200 feet from the shore on each side. This can potentially cause collisions and accidents.

When: County Commissioners need your input now.

Where: Please email, mail or call your county commissioners ASAP!
Bill Brooks - or phone 208-446-1600
Leslie Duncan - or phone 208-446-1600
Chris Fillios - or phone 208-446-1600
Address for mail in letters: 451 Government Way Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814

Suggestions for Contacting County Commissioners
• READ THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE (Attached). Communications that do not accurately reflect what is in the ordinance will be viewed negatively and will not have the impact you want.
• In written comments, make sure to include where you live, the lakes and rivers that you recreate on, and describe how this ordinance will impact your experience.
• Ask questions. It is common for the people who draft an ordinance or law to assume that the language is clear and that it can be understood by anyone who reads it. In reality, this ordinance is ambiguous and poorly written. It will not have the desired effect that the commission wants and will create confusion on county waterways.
• Thank the commissioners for their willingness to listen and ask them to withdraw the proposed ordinance from consideration by the commission.
• DO NOT write threatening, disrespectful, or angry statements. The same should be observed in any conversation with commissioners.
• Sign your name and list your address, phone number, or email address so that the commissioner can respond to you, if he or she is inclined. It is unlikely that every email, letter, or call will be returned.

Suggested Topics and Talking Points
• The No Excessive Wake Zone is difficult to understand which will make it difficult to enforce.
• Different boats displace different amounts of water at different speeds. There is no single standard that can be applied to all boats.
• This is an arbitrary application of the law. You cannot single out one type of boat.
• The ordinance does not take into consideration the size of the wake. It describes how the boat is riding in the water.
• Small, low powered boats operating at the “vague” speed description they offer will generate a small wake but will still be in violation of the ordinance if it is operating within the proposed no excessive wake zone? How is this going to be enforced?