Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Will Proceed with Regional Plan Update After Federal Court Victory

On April 7, 2014, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order granting defendant Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s (TRPA’s) cross-motion for summary judgment against Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore. In doing so, the court upheld TRPA’s approval of its Regional Plan Update (RPU).

The court held that TRPA’s findings were supported by substantial evidence in the record, deferring to the agency’s expertise where the parties engaged in factual disputes. TRPA used the Total Maximum Daily Load model to reduce the flow of pollutants into the lake, rather than relying solely on strict limits on impervious surface coverage to achieve this goal, as it had done under the previous plan. The court determined that this decision was reasonable and supported by substantial evidence in the record, including numerous reports and studies prepared by TRPA. The court also upheld TRPA’s methodology for examining cumulative impacts to soil conservation, and stated that the agency was entitled to conclude that its mandatory, incentivized best management practices ordinance would be followed and would help improve lake clarity. Finally, the court upheld TRPA’s finding that the Regional Plan, as amended by the RPU, would achieve and maintain the ozone threshold in the Tahoe basin.

RMM partners Whitman Manley and Howard (Chip) Wilkins represented TRPA in the case.