California Clean Energy Committee sues over Tahoe Basin Area Plan
January 4, 2017
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Another California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit has been filed against Placer County — this time over the Tahoe Basin Area Plan.
The California Clean Energy Committee, a Davis, Calif.-based nonprofit, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 21 alleging that the county board of supervisors violated CEQA when it approved the Tahoe Basin Area Plan on Dec. 6.
Although the plan was jointly approved with the Tahoe City Lodge project, the 118-room hotel redevelopment is not the subject of the lawsuit.
"We have not made any allegations about the Tahoe City Lodge," CCEC attorney Gene Wilson told the Sierra Sun Tuesday. "This is about the Tahoe Basin Area Plan."
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California law requires development proposals to include an environmental impact report, which is a document intended to assess all potential environmental effects of a project and analyze mitigation measures for each. But according to CCEC, the report in this case was flawed.
The court documents state, "Despite the extensive comments received, the county prepared and relied on an EIR that falls well below the legal standards."
From there, the lawsuit goes on to list three causes of action: failure to comply with CEQA, inadequate findings in the EIR and failure to recirculate the EIR.
"The public was excluded from the vital discussion about what would constitute feasible mitigation for climate impacts," the documents state. "Such a process is unlawful under CEQA and constitutes a prejudicial abuse of discretion."
According to the lawsuit, the board's certification of the EIR was inadequate because it didn't sufficiently analyze all environmental impacts or take into account all suggested mitigation measures.
The CCEC also alleges in its filing that the county failed to recirculate the EIR for public review after changes were included.
Placer County Spokesperson DeDe Cordell said in an email, "The county is confident that the environmental impact report prepared for the County's Tahoe Basin Area Plan and the Tahoe City Lodge project is adequate and complete and will vigorously defend it and the Board's December 6, 2016, actions."
The CCEC is no stranger to CEQA lawsuits. The nonprofit challenged Placer County's approval of the EIR in the Homewood Mountain Ski Resort Master Plan, and in 2015 won on appeal.
Last November, the group filed suit against the county for the board's approval of the Martis Valley West Specific Plan.
"As to what's next, we will try to settle the case," said Wilson. "It would be, we would sit down with the county and see what we can figure out on a collaborative basis that would resolve these issues and allow the case to be concluded."