On February 14, 2022, California’s Third District Court of Appeal unanimously decided in favor of the League, our conservation partners, and environmental protections for Lake Tahoe in a long-running legal fight. The ruling protects North Lake Tahoe from oversized development while dealing a serious setback to the would-be developers of the Martis Valley West project.
On July 13, 2022, the Court of Appeal issued a Writ and Judgment directing the rescission of all approvals for the North Tahoe building proposal. The action finalized an important legal victory for the League and our co-plaintiffs Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation, effectively closing this chapter in our ongoing effort to protect Lake Tahoe form the impacts of oversized, improper development – even when it’s located outside the Basin’s boundaries.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Martis Valley West is a proposed 760-unit residential development with an additional 6.6 acres of businesses planned to be built on a ridgeline overlooking Lake Tahoe and the Martis Valley, immediately adjacent to the Tahoe Basin.
The League is engaged in a decade-long fight to ensure development outside the Basin, such as the Martis project, does not impact Lake Tahoe’s environment or community – by creating traffic impacts, pollution and increased fire danger. The Court of Appeal’s February 2022 decision was a major, precedent-setting victory that can protect Tahoe from impacts beyond the Basin’s boundary. However, we will remain vigilant in the likely case that another project seeks to skirt the strict environmental protections that govern projects inside the Basin boundary.
In 2016, Placer County approved the proposed project against strong opposition from the League, environmental organizations and community members who cited unavoidable impacts to Lake Tahoe’s fragile environment, among other objections. After exhausting all other means to amend the project, the League to Save Lake Tahoe joined with Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation to ask a court to enforce California’s environmental law to protect Lake Tahoe from pollution caused by the proposed Martis Valley West project.
In the spring of 2018, the Placer County Superior Court issued an order to vacate and set aside Placer County’s 2016 approvals of the proposed Martis Valley West project, citing Placer County’s failure to provide sufficient analysis of the project’s impacts on emergency evacuation, such as in the event of a wildfire.
The project developers had also originally proposed development on adjacent land inside the Basin (the Brockway campground), but that property has been sold to the U.S. Forest Service where it will be protected from development in perpetuity.
In August of 2021, a court invalidated approvals for a proposed development project in Olympic Valley in a case very similar to Martis Valley West. In that decision, attorneys for Sierra Watch argued that the project’s environmental impact report intentionally failed to analyze or mitigate the project’s potential impacts to Lake Tahoe from added traffic. Combined with the favorable outcome in the Martis case, the two decisions set a strong precedent to help secure responsible, Lake-friendly planning for the region.
- Tahoe conservationists score major court victory over Martis Valley Development
- Tahoe conservationists challenge Martis Valley West court decision
- Court halts Martis Valley West project
- Martis Valley proposal in-depth
- View the Martis Valley West environmental review documents on Placer County’s website
- September 2016 League to Save Lake Tahoe comments on denying Martis Valley West Specific Plan
- League request to open public comment on July 7, 2016
- June 2016 League to Save Lake Tahoe comments on FEIR for Martis Specific Plan | Cover letter
- December 2015 League to Save Lake Tahoe comments on DEIR for Martis Specific Plan
- August 2015 League to Save Lake Tahoe comments on Brockway Proposal
- March 2015 League comments on revised NOP for Martis Specific Plan
- October 2014 comment letter to Placer County regarding the West Parcel Area Plan
- Reno Gazette-Journal (November 2014) Tahoe residents: Northstar project is ‘urban sprawl in the forest’