TRPA lawsuit dismissed |

TRPA lawsuit dismissed

The plaintiffs suing the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency over the upcoming ban of certain types of motorized watercraft from Lake Tahoe agreed Wednesday to dismiss the lawsuit.

With the ban a little more than two months from going into effect, TRPA and the plaintiffs were able to come up with an acceptable compromise. This came after months of fruitless negotiations and long discussions at recent TRPA board meetings.

The discussion took about 40 minutes Wednesday at the regular March meeting of the Governing Board of TRPA.

“We have been working long and hard to hammer out this settlement,” said John Fagan, attorney for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, one of the organizations listed in the suit against TRPA.

What brought the proposed dismissal about is an agreement by TRPA to allow more exemptions on the ban. In exchange for that, the plaintiffs in the suit agreed to several mitigation measures, which theoretically will make up for the added pollution believed to be caused by the exemptions.

The resulting compromise will give Lake Tahoe residents, business owners and visitors more options of what kind of boats can be used on Lake Tahoe. The deal will also give TRPA additional help in enforcing the ban and educating people about it.

The governing board originally adopted the ban in 1997, calling for the prohibition of carbureted two-stroke engines from Lake Tahoe by June 1, 1999. The ordinance left room for changes, and some amendments have been made in recent months.

The plaintiffs – which include the National Marine Manufacturers Association and several watercraft rental firms and residents – in October 1997 filed a lawsuit against TRPA. The trial was scheduled for May.

Fagan and Larry Hoffman, attorney for several Lake Tahoe residents and businesses, said the settlement was one that no one likely was very happy with.

“At least (Lake Tahoe residents and visitors) have some short-term options before this stuff starts coming down the pipeline,” Hoffman said.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe and the attorneys general from California and Nevada had intervened in the suit on the side of TRPA. All agreed with the settlement terms.

“We signed this with deep reluctance, because of our concern about the adequacy of the mitigation,” said Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League.

TRPA’s need for more enforcement was the deciding factor.

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