Placer County sued over Martis Valley housing plan
Following up on a vow to sue Placer County for a decision allowing 6,000 homes to be built around Martis Valley near Lake Tahoe, a quintet of environmental groups filed a lawsuit Friday in Auburn.
Sierra Watch, League to Save Lake Tahoe, Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, the Planning and Conservation League, and the Sierra Club contend that the Placer County Board of Supervisors violated state environmental laws when it approved the Martis Valley Community Plan Update on Dec. 16.
Martis Valley sits at an elevation of about 5,800 feet between Truckee and North Lake Tahoe on the Nevada-Placer county line. Those on both sides of the issue are confident they will triumph in court.
“Our case is rock solid,” said Tom Mooers, executive director of Nevada City-based Sierra Watch. “All along, Placer County has ignored state planning laws.”
When considering the Martis Valley plan, Mooers said Placer County ignored comments from Truckee, which is in Nevada County, overlooked major impacts on the Lake Tahoe Basin and relied on an incomplete description of the project.
After hundreds of hours of meetings and extensive public discussion on the community plan update, Anthony La Bouff, Placer County attorney, said he believes the county supervisors and staff “followed state law completely.”
“It was pretty clear there were people not in favor of the decision made by the board,” he said. “But the core issue here is not what choices were made, but whether the process was flawed or illegal. I think we did it right.”
The original Martis Valley plan from 1975 would have allowed as many as 12,000 homes. That was scaled down in the updated community plan to about 6,000 housing units.
Mooers said environmental groups aren’t calling for a total ban on building around the valley. Some 3,000 homes would still generate “billions” for developers and be a compromise the groups could work with, “although frankly that’s more than we want to see,” he said.
“The lawsuit itself isn’t the end game,” Mooers said. “We want to use that action to spur people to sit down with us and talk about a compromise.”
– The Associated Press contributed to this report
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