TRPA receives favorable ruling on Shorezone appeal
Stateline, NV – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a favorable ruling on Shorezone litigation between TRPA and the League to Save Lake Tahoe, allowing the agency discretion on how to determine its baseline measurement of buoys on the lake.
TRPA’s shorezone regulations, adopted in 2008, 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.
At issue in the lawsuit was TRPA’s method of environmental impact analysis used to set its shorezone policy, and how it determined the number of buoys properly included in its baseline measurement. TRPA’s environmental analysis included a baseline measurement on the impacts of all existing buoys on Lake Tahoe: both permitted and unpermitted. The League to Save Lake Tahoe filed suit in 2008 after TRPA adopted the policy, alleging that the environmental analysis violated the law by including all existing buoys, and failed to fully consider the policy’s effects.
Judge Karlton, from the Eastern District of California, found in his 2010 ruling on the suit, that the agency’s environmental document was insufficient in its analysis and determined that unpermitted buoys must be excluded from the baseline.
TRPA appealed this ruling and the 9th Circuit Court rejected the League’s claim, stating, “Based on the record before us, we cannot say that the only way for TRPA to satisfy its obligations under the compact would be to exclude unauthorized, existing buoys from the baseline.” The three-judge panel went on to say that TRPA “shall retain discretion on remand to determine the best way to explain and evaluate the impact of the proposed project and its choice of an appropriate baseline.”
“We appreciate the Court’s respect for the Agency’s expertise in determining how best to identify critical environmental impacts,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, Executive Director of TRPA. “We need to take into account the reality on the ground when analyzing the effects of our policies.”