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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Enviros Fight Development at Lake Tahoe

SACRAMENTO (CN) - The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, already deficient in protecting Lake Tahoe and its environment, approved a large ski resort expansion that will further damage the Sierra ecosystem, the Sierra Club says.

Joined by the local group Friends of the Shore, the Sierra Club sued the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County in Federal Court.

The environmentalists claim Regional Planning Agency has not updated its environmental policies since 1987, and has not achieved the air, water, plant and wildlife quality standards mandated in those 25-year-old policies.

The famed clarity of Lake Tahoe has been declining at the rate of 1 foot per year because of pollution, primarily from feeder tributaries and surface discharges into the lake.

"Many thresholds have not shown a positive trend for improvement or are in decline, including the thresholds for water clarity, algal growth, soil conservation and ozone. Thus the Regional Plan is inadequate to achieve and maintain the thresholds," according to the complaint.

To allow the Homewood Mountain Resort to expand from 25,000 square-feet of floor area to more than 1 million square-feet would destroy the peaceful and largely undeveloped West Shore, turning it into a copy of the overdeveloped Nevada side, according to the complaint.

The Sierra Club says that while the Regional Planning Agency and Placer County developed alternative plans for the expansion, which were less environmentally damaging, the defendants dismissed them as "economically unfeasible."

The plaintiffs also claims that required environmental impact reports and studies released for public comment violate the California Environmental Quality Act, as they fail to "accurately describe the project, study the entire project's effects, adequately describe significant environmental impacts, include adequate mitigation measures, study feasible alternatives, [or] include information upon which conclusions are based".

They seek declaratory judgment, a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Placer County, Homewood Village Resorts, and JMA Ventures, the project developer.

The plaintiffs are represented by Trent Orr and Wendy Park of Earthjustice in Oakland. Friends of the West Shore is also represented by Michael Lozeau with Lozeau Drury, also of Oakland.

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