Atten: Oregon Riders and Boaters

Pending PWC Related Rule Making In Oregon You Need To Know. 

The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) is considering a petition by Willamette waterfront homeowners aimed at placing harsh and bizarre restrictions on riders and boaters.

The first of three actions, is reducing the current shoreline noise decibel limit from 84 to 75 dBA. This has long been expected in order to bring Oregon in line with western state noise standards. The vast majority of watercraft already meet this standard.

The Second is specifically aimed at freeriders, along with other personal watercraft owners.  It reads:

“… to specifically restrict activities that generate unreasonable noise disturbances such as engine revving. Restrict activities like flips and other aerial tricks, that not only cause severe noise disturbances, but should also qualify as imprudent, unreasonable, unsafe, and reckless operation when done by a recreational operator. When aerial tricks are executed by a professional or individual training for competition, a permit should be required, and the location of executing such tricks should be relegated to a state designated location away from residential areas.”

Permits? The State telling you where you can and can’t ride?  If that’s not bad enough, the Third action is ominous, impacting all Oregon boaters with the Orwellian sounding “Narrative Standard.”

It boils down to this:  Anyone – in another watercraft, or on shore, can report you to law enforcement for being ‘too loud’ or for just being there.  It requires law enforcement to make contact with you, and provides the ability to ticket you even if you’re not violating a noise limit, just… because.  We’re not making this up:

  1. Amend OAR 250-010-0121 by adding a “Reasonable Person Standard” or “Narrative Standard” that would apply to noise emanating from motorboats and personal watercraft. This would allow context to be considered when local law enforcement determines whether a noise disturbance is disruptive enough to warrant citation, regardless of decibel output. It would also alleviate the need to involve state agencies such as the OSMB in dealing with local noise disturbances, freeing them up to focus on navigation, registration, safety, and other issues occurring directly on the water, while empowering law enforcement and residents directly impacted to solve local noise issues locally. A Narrative Standard provides law enforcement with a tool that is easier to enforce than a numeric standard alone and allows boaters the ability to better self-regulate their own noise output.

This is isn’t just poor public policy – it’s dangerous and diverts law enforcement away from looking out for reckless operators or drunks.  It gives anyone the ability to report you for being on ‘their waterway’ if they don’t like you.  It’s not hard to see the high level of abuse and false reports that would result.  Giving law enforcement the ability to make judgement calls based on “context” is not how equal protection under the law works.  It’s equivalent of receiving a speeding ticket while driving the speed limit, because you’re not from that town.  This is really that kind of super bad public policy.   

We urge you to make your opinion heard against this extreme over-reach by a vocal few. 

Oregon riders and boaters deserve better than to be discriminated against by wealthy and connected waterfront landowners who choose to live on a busy waterway.

We need to speak up and oppose these draconian proposals. You may submit your comments at [email protected]

Use “Watercraft noise petition” in the subject line. Comments must be submitted no later than midnight June 26, 2022.

Your comments need not be long.  Just a few lines on how this would negatively impact you, or how poorly thought out these proposed polices are is plenty.  Five minutes of your time, right now, is well worth preserving your freedom on the water.

To be sure, if this “Narrative Standard” rule goes into effect, these self-described “normal people” will continue to push for further restrictions against boating activities they personally don’t approve of; likely speed limits and operating hours. Despite their denials, and supposed good intentions, they always want more restrictions.

Spread the word to other riders and boaters, your friends, and family. Have them submit a comment. It’s a numbers game. When boaters stand together, we win.  When we don’t, we lose.

Please submit your comments today, and encourage as many others as you can to do the same.