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Permit Applicants Threaten Suit, Remain in Line

February 26, 1990

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) _ Driven by a rare chance for permission to build homes in this scenic ski and gambling resort, about 140 people spent a fourth day camped outside the library in snow and below-zero temperatures.

The would-be builders - some huddled in crudely built igloos and snow caves - held their ground even though the county government on Friday withdrew a plan to issue the coveted permits on a first-come, first-served basis Monday morning. A smaller contingent waited outside City Hall, hoping for a crack at a separate batch of permits controlled by the city government.

The impromptu camp-out demonstrates the voracious appetite for property in this town that boasts ski slopes, scenic vistas - and a chance to gamble just across the state line in Nevada.

Tough anti-development policies enacted in the early 1970s have kept construction at a virtual standstill around Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada within a day’s drive of San Francisco.

″The people in front of us have waited 14 years to build on their lot,″ said Diane Rosner, one of about 60 outside City Hall.

Concerned about the line and spurred by allegations of favoritism in the permit process, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to cancel their plans to issue 123 permits by lottery.

But the applicants, who began lining up Wednesday, vowed to stay, and to sue if the lottery didn’t proceed.

″We do not intend to be dispersed,″ said Doug Rosner, a South Lake Tahoe real estate broker who was 34th in the line Sunday.

Dale Sare, an attorney for about 100 permit applicants, said his clients would to remain in line until Monday morning and will sue unless the county issues the permits.

With rare exceptions, building has been stopped in the Tahoe basin since the early 1970s in an effort to save Lake Tahoe from being clogged with algae caused by nutrients that wash off cleared land and into the lake.

A settlement to numerous lawsuits was recently reached, and officials of the city and four counties which have territory in the moratorium area are working out how to issue permits.

In an emergency session late Friday, county supervisors withdrew their plan, saying they would decide March 6 how to issue the permits.

The city of South Lake Tahoe planned to make 62 permits available Friday on a first-come, first-served basis.

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