Tahoe Fire Danger

Making our Case for Martis

Yesterday Sierra Watch and our conservation allies delivered our final brief to the California Third District Court of Appeals, the latest step in our challenge to the Martis Valley West project.

It’s a 127-page tour de force of law, reason, and justice – written by the best public interest land use attorneys in the state.  Click here to read the final brief: Martis Valley West Final Brief for California Court of Appeals

It spells out a rock solid case ofhttps://www.sierrawatch.org/making-our-case-for-martis/martis-valley-west-final-brief-for-california-court-of-appeals/ why development approvals for the Martis Valley West project were illegal. 

And it’s how – together – we stand up to defend Tahoe and our mountain values.

Tahoe Fire Danger

Pictured: Martis Valley from above

To review: developers filed their Martis Valley West proposal back in 2013, asking for entitlements to subdivide land on the Northstar side of Highway 267 along Brockway Summit for a new development including 760 houses on the northern rim of the Tahoe Basin.

Coupled with Alterra’s proposed development in Squaw Valley, it would add more than 7,000 new daily car trips to our Tahoe traffic mess.

Even though the Placer County Planning Commission recommended against it, the Board of Supervisors approved the project in fall of 2016.

Sierra Watch, along with the League to Save Lake Tahoe and Mountain Area Preservation, filed suit to overturn those approvals.

And we won.

Martis Valley Lake Tahoe

Pictured: Lake Tahoe from Martis Peak

Last year the trial court agreed with one of our key arguments, ruling that the County failed to assess the threat of catastrophic wildfire “especially in light of its high fire hazard status” and ordered Placer County to “vacate and set aside” its approvals.

This is an important victory that, at least temporarily, stopped the project from going forward.  But it was narrow in its findings, so we’ve appealed that ruling – to make it stronger. 

Yesterday’s brief details how the County failed to follow state law in assessing the development’s impacts on the clarity of Lake Tahoe, on climate change, on forest protection, and on wildfire danger.

Pointing out, for example, “The County did not take the fire issue seriously,” and its environmental review “is inexplicably indifferent to the public’s safety concerns in the event of a wildfire or other emergency.”

(For more on Tahoe development and wildfire danger, check out: Tahoe has an evacuation problem. Should new development be allowed in wildfire zones?)

Tahoe Fire Danger

Pictured: Smoke in the Tahoe Basin

It’s the last brief to be filed in this round; now we wait – the appellate court’s decision could take anywhere from two months to two years.

In the meantime, we’ll keep pursuing our longstanding commitment to Martis Valley and standing up for everything we love about Tahoe. 

Thanks for being part of our ongoing success.