Suits follow on heels of scenic regulations’ passage |

Suits follow on heels of scenic regulations’ passage

Regulations passed Wednesday to make lakeshore homes better blend with the trees and the mountains of the Lake Tahoe Basin will likely be challenged in court by a group based at Incline Village.

Ronald Zumbrun, representing the Committee for the Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe, said Thursday he expects to serve a lawsuit on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to rejects findings that indicate lakeshore home are harming the environment.

The committee plans to meet Friday to discuss the action, Zumbrun said. The group first filed a lawsuit against the agency Oct. 22. Zumbrun said the suit was filed but not served to protect the legal rights of the committee to challenge the agency.

The lawsuit and dozens of unresolved issues listed by a number of interest groups brought an end to negotiations regarding proposed regulation system. A Governing Board vote on the system, which had been postponed until January, was put back on agenda and voted on Wednesday after request by Dean Heller, chairman of the TRPA Governing Board.

“I think it’s an ill-advised move,” said John Marshall, lead attorney at TRPA, of the pending lawsuit. “A legitimate compromise was reached between those pushing for more and those pushing for less. By the committee asserting their parochial interests it will upset that balance potentially and does the community no good.”

At the heart of the lawsuit filed by the committee is the 2001 Threshold Evaluation, a report issued by the TRPA to let people know if environmental goals are being reached. One of its findings indicated lakeshore homes began to dominate the natural landscape in 1991.

“It was defective for several reasons,” said Zumbrun, of the Threshold Evaluation. “One is the compact between California and Nevada expressly states development at Lake Tahoe should be done with an equilibrium between man and nature. This made it clear man was going to become subordinate with nature.”

Zumbrun said the TRPA failed to provide scientific evidence or an economic study to support the regulations when the Governing Board approved the evaluation July 24. In addition, Zumbrun said, the staff failed to write the system in a clear and understandable way as required by the Compact of the TRPA.

If the lawsuit is served by Zumbrun, Marshall said that given the earlier reaction of the Governing Board to the lawsuit he does not expect the case to be settled.

Pam Drum, TRPA spokeswoman, said if the lawsuit is served on the agency it does not mean all building stops at the basin in 2003. “There is a lot of paper work that has to happen first,” Drum said. “(Then) it’s really up to the judge.”

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

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