Sierra Club v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, No. 14-15998 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Regional Plan Update (RPU) of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). The RPU generally restricts future development to areas that are already developed, and sets forth the amount of further development that will be permitted in those areas in the future. As a preliminary matter, the court held that plaintiffs have standing to assert claims that are ripe. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court properly entered summary judgment in favor of TRPA where the final EIS for the RPU adequately addressed localized impacts on soil conservation and water quality. Therefore, the EIS’s analysis of the effects of concentrating development was not arbitrary or capricious, and did not violate Regional Planning Compact article VII(a)(2)(A) by failing to address significant environmental impacts of the RPU. The court also held that TRPA reasonably concluded that, in light of anticipated improvements in best management practices (BMP) maintenance, the development permitted in the RPU would have less than a significant effect on water quality. Thus, the TRPA’s assumptions regarding BMPs were supported by substantial evidence and are entitled to deference. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment, including the district court's imposition of costs and denial of reimbursement to plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ request for judicial notice was denied as moot.