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MAP, Sierra Watch, League to Save Lake Tahoe File Suit against Martis Valley West Project

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Following Placer County Board of Supervisors’ 4-1 approval of the Martis Valley West Project, Mountain Area Preservation (MAP), Sierra Watch, and League to Save Lake Tahoe filed a suit with the Placer County Superior Court on Nov. 10 to overturn the board’s decision.

“The Martis Valley West proposal poses a direct threat to Lake Tahoe and its famous clarity. For years, our groups have attempted to collaborate with the developers and Placer County to find a solution that protects the Lake,” said Darcie Goodman Collins, PhD, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. “Asking the courts to enforce the law is a last resort, but the developers have done nothing to address their project’s threats to Tahoe.”

The project itself includes a 760-unit residential and 6.6-acre commercial project to be located on a ridge overlooking Lake Tahoe and Martis Valley, immediately adjacent to the boundary of the Tahoe Basin. The environmental groups argue that, among other things, the added 1,394 daily car trips the development would add to local traffic could seriously damage lake clarity.

Opponents of the project, including the aforementioned environmental groups, include hundreds of community members, the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council, the California Attorney General’s office, and even the county’s own Planning Commission. Community members have also raised objections to the project’s risk to public safety in the event of a major fire, noting the likelihood of gridlock on Highway 267 in an evacuation.

Although the project would affect life in the Tahoe Basin itself, including the added traffic and threat to lake clarity, it does not rest in the jurisdiction of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and is therefore exempt from the TRPA’s Regional Plan Update, which is designed to provide safeguards for the lake, while ensuring that any new redevelopment is concentrated in town centers where impacts can be better managed and lead to environmental restoration of sensitive lands.

“The League decided to support TRPA’s 2012 Regional Plan Update because we saw an opportunity to ensure that development projects within the Basin contribute to efforts to protect the lake,” said Dr. Collins with the League. “The Martis proposal goes against all of the plan’s protections. If this project was proposed within the Tahoe Basin, the developers would not only have to resolve threats to the lake, but would have to provide associated environmental benefits for Tahoe.”

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February 14, 2019