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Protecting Tahoe: The Sierra Watch Precedent

This is how we do it. This is how our commitment to defend one place snowballs into protecting Tahoe and its surrounding region.

Reporter Alex Hoeft of Truckee’s Moonshine Ink offers a comprehensive look at the Sierra Watch Precedent and what it means for Tahoe:

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Precedented: Strict Regulation On Development In The Tahoe Basin Could Expand Beyond It

Alex Hoeft — Feb. 10, 2021

The Lake Tahoe Basin, in all its glory, is a worldwide destination. About 15 million people visit each year — or the state populations of Arizona and Washington combined — and the lake is one of the two clearest in the United States.

Behind the scenes of such beauty are the cogs to keep everything humming. To unify the multiple jurisdictions surrounding the lake in the name of protection, a bi-state compact in 1969 formed the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which is charged with development overseeing, regulatory enforcement, and implementation of environmental programs in the Basin, an area that encompasses all are draining into Lake Tahoe. Should a development be proposed within the Basin’s boundaries, by law the TRPA’s guidelines and thresholds must be considered.

Until August 2021, projects taking place just beyond the mountain peaks looking down onto the lake were not required to utilize the TRPA’s thresholds (though some certainly have). But a decision out of California’s Third District Court of Appeals last summer paved legal precedent for requiring formal consideration for impacts on the lake, even in non-Basin developments.

The court ruled in favor of plaintiff Sierra Watch in the suit against Placer County and Palisades Tahoe over the development called Squaw Valley Village. The Placer County Board of Supervisors had approved the Palisades project in November 2016, with then-District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery as the only opposing vote. Sierra Watch, a conservation-focused nonprofit, appealed a month later. The trail court confirmed the county’s decision in 2018, and the organization appealed once more.

Then last summer, the state appeals court reversed the county trial court judgement, stating in its partially published decision that it agreed with Sierra Watch’s claims about the impacts to Lake Tahoe, traffic, noise, and fire danger, and that Placer County and Palisades must make considerations about such impacts if the project is to move forward. The partial publication of the decision allows that portion to be used as legal precedent for reference in the future….

Read The Entire Story As We Continue Protecting Tahoe: