Lake Tahoe CA/NV – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is planning a vigorous defense of a lawsuit filed last Friday against affordable and workforce housing policy changes adopted for the Lake Tahoe Region in December 2023, TRPA General Counsel John Marshall said in a statement today.

“Mountain Area Preservation, a Truckee-based group whose members identify themselves as people who live and work in the Lake Tahoe Region, seeks to close off opportunities for others of limited means to enjoy the same opportunities,” Marshall said.

TRPA’s recent policy changes created additional incentives for affordable and workforce housing close to transit and services, along with increased requirements for stormwater treatment to protect the lake’s famed clarity and measures to promote walking, biking, and transit use.

“Lake Tahoe has some of the strongest environmental protections in the nation thanks to the bi-state compact that created the TRPA in 1969,” said TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan. “The TRPA Governing Board has made it a priority to stand up for local workers to help revitalize our communities and protect the lake for future generations.”

Facts about environmental conditions at Lake Tahoe
  • Strict development caps through the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan are unparalleled in the United States and remain in effect for the Tahoe Basin under the amended policies to promote affordable housing.
  • Less than 1 percent of the land area of the Tahoe Basin is in a town center where new policies apply to deed-restricted affordable and workforce housing projects. The housing units reserved for the policy incentives have been set aside for decades.
  • More than 70 percent of the pollutants harming Lake Tahoe are coming from urban upland areas where reinvestment brings water quality and transportation improvements.
  • Monitoring of environmental conditions in the Tahoe Basin shows that the full-time population dropped 12 percent from 2000 to 2020 as home prices became out of reach for most residents.
  • Traffic statistics show the number of cars and visitors in the region has remained flat over the last decade even as leisure activities have shifted to outdoor recreation.
  • See also: presentation on demographics and transportation, pollution reduction progress reports, environmental threshold carrying capacity reports conducted every four years.

“Unfortunately, litigating affordable housing solutions under the guise of environmental protection is becoming a common tactic in communities across California and the nation, and is a major reason why shortages of affordable housing continue,” Marshall said. “In the case here in Lake Tahoe, these litigants are blocking both affordable housing solutions and progress toward lake clarity.”

Housing planners at TRPA have been following stories of similar litigation elsewhere:

How environmental law is misused to stop housing, CalMatters, January 8, 2023

How major environmental groups ended up on the wrong side of California’s housing crisis, Mother Jones, November 17, 2023

NIMBYism as a barrier to housing and social mix in San Francisco, National Institute of Health Library of Medicine, May 26, 2021

Measure O and the downtown Santa Cruz library project, Santa Cruz Local, November 8, 2022

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or