Claims Dismissed in Tahoe Regional Plan Update Challenge

On June 17, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed one federal claim and all state claims in Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and ordered Plaintiffs to pay for the production of the administrative record. The case involves a challenge to the Regional Plan Update approved by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (“TRPA”) on December 12, 2012.  TRPA had moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to prosecute, moved to dismiss all state law claims, and moved to dismiss two of the federal causes of action included in the Complaint.  TRPA moved to dismiss for failure to prosecute because Plaintiffs refused to pay for the costs associated with the production of the administrative record as required under the TRPA Rules of Procedure.  The court rejected Plaintiffs’ challenges to the validity of the administrative record provisions in the TRPA Rules of Procedure.  Rather than dismissing the entire case, the court held that the Plaintiffs were required to pay the costs to produce the record within 15 days of the court’s ruling.  The court also held that the Plaintiffs could not bring state law claims against TRPA or seek attorney’s fees under California law because the Congressional consent transformed the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact (“Compact”) into federal law. Finally, the court held that the Plaintiffs did not have standing to bring one of their federal claims, which challenged the provision of the Regional Plan Update that allowed the TRPA to delegate permitting of certain projects to local governments through Area Plans. The court held Plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue this claim because no delegation had occurred and thus there was no injury to the Plaintiffs. Although the remainder of the federal claims will proceed, the court’s ruling represents a substantial step forward for TRPA and the Regional Plan Update. Remy Moose Manley, LLP partners Whitman F. Manley and Howard F. Wilkins represent the TRPA along with TRPA attorneys John L. Marshall and Scott Lichtig. See TRPA’s press release for more information.