Judge strikes down Tahoe pier and buoy rules
LAKE TAHOE – A federal judge Thursday struck down regulations allowing new buoys, piers and boat ramps around Lake Tahoe, saying a regulatory agency did not go far enough to make sure the environmental quality of the lake would be protected.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of Sacramento, Calif., handed two environmental groups a victory by sending the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s shorezone regulations back to the drawing board.
The League to Save Lake Tahoe and Sierra Club sued after the agency in October 2008 approved regulations allowing 1,862 new buoys, 138 new piers, six new boat ramps and 235 new boat slips around Tahoe.
“We struggled for 22 years to find middle ground on the polarizing shorezone issue and we’re disappointed to be back where we started,” said Joanne Marchetta, TRPA Executive Director. “We worked diligently to implement new protections for Lake Tahoe and we hope to continue some elements of the shorezone policy such as our Blue Boating Program.”
It is unclear what the implications are for this aggressive clean boating program, according to Nicole Rinke, TRPA’s General Counsel. TRPA is reviewing the decision to determine the Agency’s next steps.
After a 22-year debate of how best to manage development in Lake Tahoe’s shorezone, the TRPA adopted new policies and ordinances in October 2008. These shorezone regulations set development caps on new buoys and piers and established mitigation measures, making the new rules more protective than previous ordinances. The intent was to better manage the already existing 768 piers and approximately 4,500 buoys on the lake today while capping future additional development.
In November 2008, the Tahoe Area Sierra Club Group and League to Save Lake Tahoe filed suit in federal court challenging the legality of the shorezone ordinance amendments, which were passed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board in October. In December 2008, the Tahoe Lakefront Owners’ Association – a private property rights advocacy group – also filed suit challenging the amendments and signaled they would seek an injunction to prevent their implementation.
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