9th Circuit upholds TRPA Regional Plan Update

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Regional Plan update.

The Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore had sued to block the plan arguing the plan was arbitrary and capricious.

TRPA won a summary judgment from the district court but Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore appealed.

In a 30-page opinion issued this week, the appellate panel agreed with the district court, ruling concentrating development in the Tahoe Basin in “community centers” was neither arbitrary nor capricious and didn’t fail to address significant environmental impacts. The opinion reached the same conclusion in reviewing whether TRPA’s assumptions regarding best management practices would reduce water quality impacts of concentrating development in already developed areas. The opinion says that conclusion was supported by substantial evidence developed during the course of more than 10 years of work on the plan update (RPU).

The updated plan generally restricts future development to areas already developed and sets out the amount of development that will be permitted in those areas.

“The final EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for the RPU adequately addressed localized impacts on soil conservation and water quality,” the opinion states and concludes the development permitted in the update “would have less than a significant effect on water quality.”

The RPU was adopted by the TRPA Governing Board in December 2012, designed as a general governing document for development and environmental protection at Tahoe, giving more control to local governments in the basin through Area Plans they develop.

As part of the decision, the three-justice panel also upheld the district court decision to award TRPA legal costs incurred in fighting the lawsuit.


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