OCEANSIDE — Oceanside Harbor does not allow human-powered watercrafts in its waters, but you would not guess that from looking around.
On any given day people on standup paddleboards, surfboards and other crafts tool around the harbor and frequently disregard the rules of the road. They often cross the paths of oncoming boats with little time for drivers to avoid hitting them.
“They’re there every single day,” Paul Lawrence, harbor manager, said. “We need to work to find a solution for the public to utilize them in a manner that’s safer for boaters who encounter them.”
“It’s quite frustrating, they don’t seem concerned with their own personal safety,” Lawrence added.
The exclusion of standup paddleboards and surfboards is currently enforced on a case-by-case basis with a reminder.
Harbor staff is looking to update the rules to allow operation of human-powered crafts with regard to everyone’s safety. To do so Lawrence requested input from the Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee on Oct. 19.
Several committee members shared their concerns for safety.
“They’re running amuck,” committee member Carolyn Krammer said.
Committee member Les George said there is a need for clear rules and enforcement.
“You can’t write a ticket for someone who is putting their lives in jeopardy,” George said.
George recommended requiring an education program for everyone who takes a human-powered craft into the water. Committee members discussed having certified training as part of the equipment rental process.
Following the meeting Lawrence said the rental company within the harbor is supportive of requiring safety education.
Discussion also included which types of crafts could be safely allowed. Some said surfboards sit too low in the water for boaters to see.
Jim Jenkins, committee chair, said commissioners would send their suggestions to Lawrence by email.
Lawrence said harbor staff would also look into state parks laws. He added new rules would likely be in place before summer.
Carlsbad requires paddleboarders who use Agua Hedionda Lagoon to obtain city day use permits.