Tahoe homes lawsuit goes to federal court

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - A Reno federal judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit challenging regulations requiring homes visible from Lake Tahoe to blend with the scenery.

Arguments will be based on a motion filed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to dismiss the lawsuit.

They will be heard by a U.S District Court judge in Reno.

The justification for the scenic regulations - which can limit the amount window glass facing the lake, call for darker color paint and require screening of a home with shrubs or trees - are based on the 2001 Threshold Evaluation, a report released by the agency.

It says homes around the shore of the lake have begun to dominate the landscape.

The group that filed the lawsuit, the Committee for the Reasonable Regulation Lake Tahoe, will argue the rules should be scrapped because they are based on homes and other development projects reviewed and approved by the agency.

The Incline Village-based committee will be represented in court by attorney Ronald Zumbrun. Agency attorney John Marshall and outside council will represent the agency.

"I know he's a very thorough judge," Zumbrun said. "He may issue an oral decision (today), but I think that's unlikely because there are so many issues."

Zumbrun's oral argument will be followed by one from an attorney who represents Tahoe Lakefront Owners' Association, and an attorney representing the Pacific Legal Foundation, said Bob Wheeler, an Incline resident who founded the Committee for the Reasonable Regulation of Lake Tahoe.

"This is not going to go away," said Wheeler, indicating he would consider appealing the judge's decision if goes in favor of the bistate agency. "We're going to do as much as we can to protect the property rights that these guys are hell bent to take away from us."

The hearing is scheduled today at 10 a.m. in Reno at the U.S. District Court, 400 S. Virginia St.

Contact Gregory Crofton at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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