45-Day Notice: Proposed Off-Road Vehicle Rule Change, Electric Bicycle Regulation and Other Noted Changes

Association News



Why are changes needed to what the association has now?
Electric bicycle (e-bike) use on the Tahoe Donner trail and fire road system (“trail system”) was previously governed by the Off-Road Vehicle Rule. The previous rule needed to be updated to address and clarify motorized and motor-propelled vehicle use on Association Common Area and other Association Real Property, which encompasses the trail system.

The adopted changes aim to address:

  • Ambiguity of the previous rule language: Due to changes to state motor vehicle regulations and advances in bicycle technology, many members believed the existing rule was ambiguous regarding e-bikes. Daily staff interaction, feedback with members and guests on the trail and observation of e-bike usage attested to the apparent ambiguity.
  • Modern terminology: The existing rule was adopted in 1997 and had not been updated in nearly 25 years to adjust to modern terminology of off-road and motorized vehicles, including but not limited to the growing trend of e-bikes.
  • Changing needs of the membership: Through the e-bike regulation member outreach process this year, themes of changing member needs and member experience when using the trail system were evident. This rule change is one piece of the management plan to improve and sustain the trail system and user experience.

Beginning in the fall of 2020, staff reported to the Board of Directors on the Off-Road Vehicle Rule as it relates to e-bike regulation. The previous rule was neither tenable nor desirable because its language was ambiguous and the rule itself was out of sync with evolving bicycle technology and changing trail use. Additionally, the existing rule was a challenge to enforce because it was neither widely understood nor fully accepted as reasonable. In sum, the Off-Road Vehicle Rule language became a barrier to management’s ability to responsively address issues relating to advances in bicycling technology and evolving recreational demands.

Staff’s opinion was that the rule should be evaluated and addressed prior to both the 2021 summer season and the completion and adoption of the Open Space and Trails Master Plan (a 2021 and 2022 Work Plan objective).

At the November 2020 Board meeting, management presented a formal and transparent process to review and evaluate e-bike use and regulation. This process included a robust outreach plan to engage the membership and obtain meaningful information to assist in the evaluation and decision-making process. Any rule change recommendation would be expected to be widely accepted, sensible, sustainable and built on an informed foundation.

With the Board’s support, staff implemented the plan starting with an information campaign launched at the beginning of the year, followed by member outreach through forums, member comment forms and a survey. Management reported on the outreach process and touched on themes staff were seeing at the February 2021 Board meeting.

At the March 2021 Board meeting, staff presented their findings, which included a process summary, an e-bike regulation review and evaluation, a literature review, completed benchmarking, member survey results, themes from the forums and other relevant research. Staff also presented a spectrum of options for e-bike regulation at Tahoe Donner:

  • Enhance the existing rule
  • Amend the rule to allow for adaptive management
  • Allow full access for e-bikes on all trails

The Board’s feedback generally favored an adaptive approach to e-bike regulation, which would allow staff the flexibility to actively manage the trail system as use evolves. The Board supported staff drafting a rule to permit adaptive management of Class 1 e-bikes while excluding Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes from the trail system.

For background on the existing rule and other important information on the e-bike regulation evaluation process, click here.

How was the drafted Off-Road Vehicle Rule developed?
The process began in November 2020 in response to member and staff observations on e-bike use on the trail system. Staff had been actively engaging members since the initial member outreach in early 2021 and worked with the General Plan Committee’s Trails and Open Space Subcommittee, third-party legal counsel and Tahoe Donner Board of Directors. During the member outreach, staff also conducted a survey of the membership, which provided insight into e-bikes and other trails issues.

In March of 2021, the Board directed staff to prepare rule change language while taking into consideration member outreach and Board of Directors’ feedback. Over the last several months, staff worked on various iterations of the draft rule with legal counsel and interested Trails and Open Space Subcommittee members. The result is the adopted changes to the Off-Road Vehicle Rule herein.

What will e-bike access look like?
Class 1 e-bikes will have authorization to utilize all fire roads and/or doubletrack trails. Any further access for e-bikes may be set forth in open space and trails policies.

The purposes of the adopted Off-Road Vehicle Rule changes are to:

  • Clarify the regulations of electric bicycles on Tahoe Donner-owned property
  • Update rule to include modernized terminology
  • Update rule to address modern technological advances and changing recreational usage
  • Address the changing needs of the Association members

The effects of the adopted Off-Road Vehicle Rule on homeowners are to:

  • Expand prohibition of off-road vehicles to include utility terrain vehicles (UTV’s), side-by-side vehicles (SXS’s), motor-propelled scooters/boards and other motor-propelled vehicles
  • Authorize Class 1 electric bicycle usage on trails and fire road system as designated and regulated by future Association open space and trails policies

July 8, 2021: 45-Day Member Notification and comment period begins
July 23, 2021: Board of Directors meeting to hear additional member comment as a discussion item only
August 20, 2021: Deadline for member comment
August 27, 2021:
Board of Directors meeting to consider acting on proposed rule with or without modifications
September 13: 2021: Comments accepted for review and discussion at decision board meeting
September 17: Board adopted proposed rule

The adopted changes to the Off-Road Vehicle Rule are as follows:

2.2 Off-Road Vehicles. Snowmobiles; off-highway vehicles (e.g., ATV’s, UTV’s, SXS’s); motor-powered bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s), off-road motorcycles; motorized bicycles (i.e. mopeds); Class 2 and 3 electric bicycles; motor-propelled scooters or boards; electric unicycles; and off-road use of any other motor-propelled motorized vehicle is prohibited on Common Areas, and other Association-owned properties, with the following exceptions,. except that First, the Association may use such vehicles in the furtherance of its operations. Second, golf carts are authorized for use on the golf course. Third, Class 1, 2 and Class 3 electric bicycles and motorcycles are allowed in Association parking lots. Fourth, mobility assistive devices for those medically certified as disabled are allowed. Finally, Class 1 electric bicycle usage is authorized on the Association trail and fire road system segments designated and regulated for their use through Association open space and trails policies. 

The California Vehicle Code definitions of any terms used here in, sections 406, 12804.9, 21113, 21207.5, and 24016 of, and to add Sections 312.5 and 21213 as adopted October 7,2015, shall apply to any interpretation of this rule.

Note: Red text signifies new or amended language. Strikethrough text signifies deletions.