Appeals court upholds Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update | SierraSun.com

Appeals court upholds Lake Tahoe Regional Plan Update

Staff and wire reports

STATELINE, Nev. — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous ruling on Wednesday to uphold the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Regional Plan Update.

The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore filed a lawsuit against the Regional Plan update shortly after it was adopted in December 2012, arguing that the environmental review was not comprehensive enough to move forward with the policy.

U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez found the lawsuit to have no merit and dismissed it in April 2014, resulting in an appeal by the two groups.

During appeal hearings, the Sierra Club's attorney Trent Orr noted that they are "fearful" of what the new plan would allow for.

"We do not disagree that the regional plan, which was first formulated in 1987, needs to be updated. We think that they didn't update it based on adequate information," Orr told the judges.

On Nov. 2, however, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided to uphold the original ruling.

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"Today's ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is yet another strong affirmation of the widely-supported 2012 Regional Plan," said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of TRPA. "The plan is based on sound science, planning, and analysis and represents the best path forward for TRPA and its many partners to restore Lake Tahoe's treasured environment and revitalize our communities."

The updated Regional Plan retains Lake Tahoe's caps on development capacity and strengthens environmental protections. It offers redevelopment incentives for projects that remove harmful legacy development from environmentally sensitive areas such as marshes, meadows, and stream zones.

The plan also incentivizes the restoration of those areas through transfers of development into town centers to create more walkable, bikeable, and sustainable mixed-use communities.

"TRPA's Regional Plan re-galvanized the commitments of California and Nevada to work together to conserve and restore their shared national treasure," said John Marshall, general counsel for TRPA. "We're grateful to both states for their strong support and to our many community partners whose engagement has allowed this landmark plan to go forward."

Lawyers for the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore did not immediately have comment, according to the Associated Press.

"Today's decision is good news for Lake Tahoe. We chose to support the Regional Plan Update, following years of negotiations, because it provides safeguards to protect the Lake, while requiring that any new redevelopment is concentrated in town centers and comes with environmental benefits for Lake Tahoe," Darcie Goodman Collins, executive director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said in a statement. "Proper implementation and strong enforcement of the regional plan policies are the next steps to ensure Lake Tahoe is protected. The League to Save Lake Tahoe is committed to collaborating with the TRPA and other stakeholders to see that this is achieved."