Price tag on court case

A federal judge has thrown a roadblock in the way of a lawsuit by environmental groups seeking to stop a new Lake Tahoe regional plan that allows denser development.

U.S. District Judge John Mendez ordered the Friends of the West Shore and the Sierra Club to pony up $42,000 by early July to pay for the compilation by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency of a documentary record of the updating of the regional plan for the court case. Otherwise, the case will be thrown out of court.

TRPA executive director Joanne Marchetta said, “The judge's order today is a positive step in getting Lake Tahoe's environment, communities and economy back on track.”

But Laurel Ames of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club said such onerous financial requirements for public records defeat transparency. “We are disappointed in the decision because we think it does not promote transparent and good government,” she said. “But we are moving forward with this litigation because we know it is critical to the protection of the Lake.”

The issue of the lawsuit has divided Sierra Club members.