Developer looks to settle TRPA dispute over dream home |

Developer looks to settle TRPA dispute over dream home

Gregory Crofton
Charles Bluth

Chuck Bluth was defiant in August, ready to battle Lake Tahoe regulators in federal court. Today he’s ready to resolve the matter with a fat check.

Bluth, a developer who is part owner of the Cal Neva Resort, a casino on the North Shore, indicated on Monday a willingness to pay a $150,000 fine and figure out what restoration work needs to be done to settle a lawsuit that stems from the construction of his dream home on the East Shore near Glenbrook.

The lawsuit was filed last year by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, an organization established through a bistate compact in 1969 to protect Lake Tahoe. Attorneys for the agency claim Bluth ignored the permitting process for a number of building projects associated with his multimillion dollar lakeshore home.

Negotiations to resolve the numerous alleged violations broke down last summer. Bluth said he didn’t want to pay more than $50,000 to the agency and vowed to fight the case in federal court. But since then, the brash developer says he has realized fighting the case in court would be a no-win situation.

“I know more about the compact and the position it puts property owners, which is not a good position,” Bluth, 65, said. “Unfortunately, the way the law is written, people don’t have any rights.”

The lawsuit filed against Bluth is to be discussed this week when the Legal Committee of TRPA Governing Board meets Wednesday at Kings Beach.

“They offered to settle for $150,000, and we believe the time is ripe to move forward with a settlement,” said John Marshall, attorney for the agency. “It is scheduled to be heard by the Legal Committee and then the Governing Board. The Governing Board could choose to hear it or continue it, we’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see what happens.”

Bluth on Monday said he did not know his case was on track to be heard this week by the Governing Board. He said he did receive a proposed settlement agreement in the mail Friday, but said it was not satisfactory.

“We need to come to an exact agreement so both parties know what the end result would be,” Bluth said. “Right now the way the verbiage is done, it’s way too broad.”

One of the TRPA’s primary concerns, Marshall said, is the work Bluth did behind his home on the shore of the lake. It involved the installation of flower beds, a lawn and other disturbances in the “backshore,” a term used by the agency to describe land closest to the shore of Lake Tahoe. Staff at the agency said it spotted the changes made to his property in photographs published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

TRPA inspectors went out to Bluth’s home a few weeks later to examine the area, but were denied access to his property. On Oct. 8, staff obtained a search warrant from the U.S. District Court in Reno and confirmed that the work had been done.

Bluth said it was no big deal that the agency obtained a search warrant to enter his property. At this point, he said, his goal is to resolve the situation.

“I just want to get it behind me,” Bluth said. ” I don’t think it’s right under any condition. It think it’s totally without justice at all. But at this point in time, it isn’t going to change from what I’ve seen.”

Julie Regan, TRPA communications director, said the Bluth case makes clear that the agency is not lenient with its rules for anyone.

“We enforce our rules across the board,” Regan said. “One of the things we’ve learned from the Pathway 2007 process is that people think that the more affluent don’t have to follow the rules. That’s not the case. Everybody has to follow the rules.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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