Tahoe Prosperity Center dropped from cell tower suit

Laney Griffo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Tahoe Prosperity Center is off the hook for cell towers in South Lake Tahoe after plaintiffs in a lawsuit agreed on Tuesday to dismiss them from the case.

Monica Eisenstecken, Tahoe Stewards, LLC, Tahoe for Safer Tech and Environmental Health Trust brought a suit against TPC and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency this winter after a permit for a cell tower that would be placed across from Eisenstecken’s home was approved.

Plaintiffs are claiming in the suit that the cell towers negatively impact home values because they take away from Tahoe’s natural beauty and they also cause negative health impacts.

The suit brings claims against TRPA for violation of their duties and compact and violations of the Brown Act.

In their motion to dismiss, TPC said, “plaintiffs fail to tether any of their allegations to any statutory authority as the basis for their purported ‘claims’ against TPC.”

Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss TPC with prejudice, meaning they cannot bring another lawsuit against TPC for the same or similar claims.

“I have been publicly attacked for more than a year – simply for doing my job and communicating an opinion that differs from the plaintiffs in this case,” Heidi Hill Drum, TPC CEO, said in a press release. “This intimidation has also continued against TPC board members, as well as numerous other community leaders since each of us spoke up at a city council meeting and stated that better cell coverage is needed in the Lake Tahoe Basin.”

She continued, “It is offensive being sued for simply speaking out under our First Amendment rights and are thankful their attorneys finally recognized that and dismissed us from this lawsuit. We’ll continue to promote better connectivity in Lake Tahoe, despite the ongoing, ‘anonymous,’ harassment in public comment.”

TPC is a nonprofit that is working to establish attainable workforce housing, improve job and training opportunities, reliable and robust internet, and ensure a safe basin equipped with fire safety cameras — all driven by locally focused, community indicators data.

“The Tahoe Prosperity Center believes that adding a small number of strategically located, environmentally appropriate cell towers to improve coverage for our community is an important goal for public safety and improved communications,” said TPC Board Chair Frank Gerdeman in the release. “We shared that in public comment in January 2020 at a city council meeting and for that, we were sued. Our CEO has been continually harassed since then and this lawsuit is another attempt at silencing our organization on this important matter. Fortunately, plaintiff’s attorneys recognized that there was no merit in trying to keep us in this frivolous lawsuit.”

TRPA has also filed a motion to dismiss and a hearing has been set to hear that motion on June 24.

Eisenstecken did not respond to a request for a statement on the decision.

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