Suit vs. TRPA moves along
A group of property owners from Incline Village has decided to go forward with its lawsuit against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency once it sorts out what happened at the agency’s last Governing Board meeting, according to an attorney representing the group.
A system designed to make lakeshore homes blend better with the natural landscape of the Lake Tahoe Basin was unanimously approved at the meeting, with three changes to the system part of the vote.
“We haven’t satisfied all the information we need,” said Ronald Zumbrun, the attorney representing the Committee for the Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe.
The committee met Friday and decided to activate a lawsuit it filed last month. It could be several weeks before the lawsuit is served. It depends on how soon the group is able to figure out the implications of the new policy.
The heart of the lawsuit will still focus on the 2001 Threshold Evaluation report approved by the TRPA Governing Board in July, Zumbrun said. It states that homes along the shore of Lake Tahoe are harming the scenic qualities in the basin.
The Threshold Evaluation is a report released every five years by TRPA. It reveals whether the agency’s environmental goals, or thresholds, are being met.
Scenic quality is one of the nine thresholds listed in the agency bylaws approved by the California and Nevada legislatures in the late 1960s. Agency threshold reports dating to 1991 say scenic quality is in decline at the basin.
“Assuming the lawsuit is filed, we think the Compact is clear that scenic value of the Lake Tahoe Basin is one of the central environmental considerations the TRPA was enacted to protect,” said John Marshall, lead counsel for TRPA. “Their challenge to TRPA’s authority to regulate scenic quality is misguided at best.”
Whether or not the lawsuit creates a situation where the agency would have to halt building at the basin in 2003 is unclear. It is not the intention of the committee’s lawsuit to halt building, Zumbrun said.
“The chances of a (building) moratorium are remote,” Marshall said. “The Compact is clear, the thresholds are clear, the Threshold Evaluation is clear and the (scenic) ordinances are clear.
“If they challenge the ordinances and seek relief from the court forbidding the TRPA from relying on the ordinances, we must adopt a new set of ordinances to protect the threshold and deny projects until such ordinances are in place.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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