California's Third District Court of Appeal filed a precedent-setting opinion Monday, upholding CCEC's contentions regarding the massive Martis Valley West project, slated for construction at Lake Tahoe. The Court of Appeal sustained CCEC's contentions that despite repeated warnings from local organizations and technical experts--
- The Placer County Board of Supervisors had adopted illusory measures to mitigate the greenhouse gas impacts of the 662-acre forestland development,
- The Board of Supervisors had failed to evaluate measures that could reduce traffic impacts caused by the project and instead focused on widening the scenic state highway through Martis Valley (SR 267) to four lanes, and
- The Board of Supervisors further violated CEQA by failing to consider the feasibility of using renewable energy to meet the energy demand of the project.
Each of these issues was appropriate for local evaluation. A variety of experts and local groups brought these issues specifically to the attention of Placer County before the project came to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Nevertheless the Board of Supervisors failed to address them.
The court's published opinion on CCEC's issues is path-breaking in that it constitutes the first California precedent requiring a local agency to consider transportation demand management among the tools that can effectively address traffic congestion and reduce the impacts of motor vehicle traffic associated with large developments.
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger of San Francisco represented League to Save Lake Tahoe, Sierra Watch, and Mountain Area Preservation in the consolidated litigation and successfully argued that Placer County had failed to evaluate the project's impact on Lake Tahoe's renowned water clarity.
The consolidated cases are now pending remand to the Superior Court of Placer County for further proceedings consistent with the appellate decision.