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. Read the press release here.
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.
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, 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 originally also 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. With a favorable decision in the Martis case, it will set a strong precedent to help secure responsible, Lake-friendly planning for the region.
2010-2012: Initial designs for the Martis Valley West surface and discussions with conservation groups initiate.
2013-2016: The public process for community engagement and environmental review through Placer County takes place.
October 11, 2016: Despite years of strong opposition from the conservationists and the local community, the Placer County Board of Supervisors issues final approvals for Martis Valley West.
November, 10 2016: The League to Save Lake Tahoe, Sierra Watch and Mountain Area Preservation file suit to invalidate the project approval, requesting that the court enforce the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to protect Lake Tahoe from pollution caused by the Martis Valley West project. They also alleged that the County violated the Timberland Productivity Act when it rezoned the Martis Valley West parcel to allow for urban development on timberland.
March 12, 2018: The Placer County Superior Court vacates Placer County’s 2016 approvals of the Martis Valley West project, citing the County’s failure to provide sufficient analysis of the project’s impacts on emergency evacuation, such as in the event of a wildfire.
May 10, 2018: The conservations appeal, asking California’s Third District Court of Appeal to revisit environmental impacts associated with the Martis Valley West project that were not addressed in Placer County Superior Court’s prior ruling. The appeal seeks to ensure all the project’s environmental threats are addressed under CEQA, and that a precedent is set to protect Lake Tahoe. The appeal also asks the court to rule for conservationists on their claim under the Timberland Productivity Act.
December 10, 2020: The USDA Forest Service announces that it has completed the purchase of a 120-acre parcel adjacent to the Martis Valley West property that was also owned by the Martis developers. The 120 acres had been planned for development, but after strong opposition from conservation groups and the community, the developers agreed to sell the property to the Forest Service, where it will be protected from development in perpetuity.
August 24, 2021: The Court of Appeal rules that Placer County violated CEQA in its approval of a proposed development project in Olympic Valley, in a case very similar to Martis Valley West.
December 17, 2021: Oral arguments take place in the conservationists’ case before California’s Third District Court of Appeal.
February 14, 2022: California’s Third District Court of Appeal hands down its decision in favor of co-petitioners League to Save Lake Tahoe, Mountain Area Preservation and Sierra Watch, strengthening environmental protections for Lake Tahoe.
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
July 2016 League Statement on Placer County Planning Decision to reject Martis Valley West proposal
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 | Cover letter
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
Our Work: Regional Plan Update and Area Plan Implementation
Reno Gazette-Journal (November 2014) Tahoe residents: Northstar project is 'urban sprawl in the forest'