TRPA’s unbeaten lawyer resigning |

TRPA’s unbeaten lawyer resigning

Gregory Crofton

After six years of fighting to protect the lake and never losing a case in that time, the lead attorney at Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has announced he will resign early next year.

John Marshall, 42, said he no longer wants to have more than two hours of his day snatched from him because of his commute. He lives in Reno and drives to the agency’s office on Kingsbury Grade. Instead he plans to devote that time to family, including spending more time with daughters, Anna, 8, and Molly, 6.

Marshall told the TRPA Governing Board last week that he will begin working part time for the agency on Jan. 1 and remain on the job until his replacement is hired, which is expected to happen around March.

Leaving the TRPA was not a “snap” decision, Marshall said, but once he made it, he wanted to put things in motion quickly.

“Key for me is making sure the agency’s legal needs are covered through the process,” Marshall said. “Probably there is not a currently existing better job for an environmental attorney in the state of Nevada. It’s been a privilege to represent the agency over the last six years, truly interesting and cutting edge.”

John Singlaub, TRPA executive director, said Marshall’s availability, insights and advice will be missed.

“I think he has been an excellent asset to both the board and to me as executive director,” Singlaub said.

In his six years at the TRPA, Marshall has not lost a case. The most important one was filed by the Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, a property rights group that represented 400 landowners.

The group argued that a six-year freeze the TRPA put on new building in the basin in the mid-1980s was unconstitutional and constituted a “taking” of property without compensation.

The agency argued that the building moratorium was necessary to create a viable 20-year plan for the region. In April 2002, the Supreme Court ruled the TRPA’s action was constitutional.

“It created an outstanding precedent for public agencies and local government that they can take a temporary time out to address critical planning issues,” Marshall said.

Key to successfully defending the agency is to use good judgment and a real desire to protect the lake.

“At any position at TRPA you get bombarded on all sides,” Marshall said. “Unless you have a commitment to what you’re doing, i.e. to protect the lake, it all gets old very fast.”

Once he breaks free from his full-time job at the agency, Marshall plans to work from home and take on some of the cases at the Law Offices of Don Mooney, an old colleague of Marshall’s who works in Davis and practices environmental law.

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

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