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Steve Kubby: ‘Protecting the Environment v. Defending The Constitution’

By Steve Kubby

Recently, I was sworn in as an official candidate for the South Lake Tahoe City Council, by City Clerk Susan Alessi. Take a look at what I have sworn to do:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

Taking such an oath is a serious matter to me and it has already changed how I view the world.

For example, I spoke to a couple last weekend at a campaign party I hosted, who were upset that they cannot add a garage or even a carport to their South Lake Tahoe home. In fact, I’ve spoken to a lot of homeowners and businessowners that are extremely frustrated and upset about the restrictions on what they can do with their own property.

One thing is clear, Lake Tahoe is the most regulated real estate in the USA. Homeowners typically must wait several years and spend thousands of dollars to do simple maintenance on their homes. Adding a garage or carport is usually forbidden. All because of a federal agency that has asserted its power to tax, fine and regulate virtually every activitiy and property in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (or TRPA) was formed in 1969 through a bi-state compact between California and Nevada which was ratified by the U.S. Congress. The agency is “mandated” to “protect” the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin through land-use regulations and is one of only a few watershed-based regulatory agencies in the United States.

Despite the lofty promises, many local residents tell me that big developers with big bucks get the TRPA permits, while everyone else gets fines and moritoriaums.

Whenever someone questions why we must accept such intense regulation, down to what size and color is allowed for signs in the Tahoe Basin, we are told that Federal Law trumps State Law. However, that is simply not true. It is the Constitution that is the highest law of the land. Furthermore, only specific federal powers, as enumerated in the Constitution, are eligible for Supremacy Clause arguments. The 10th Amendment further secures State Sovereignty by transferring all non-enumerated powers to the States and People.

Now consider this: the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Charter allows a city to pass and enforce their own rules and regulations, so long as they are “stricter” than the TRPA. An even stricter set of regulations would include two guidelines, not just one. The first guideline is to protect the environment. However, an equally important guideline has been ignored. The second guideline would be to, “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

This isn’t just prose, or libertarian rhetoric, it is part of the oath of office for all elected officials as well as our police and military. In fact, Article VI of the Constitution requires all elected officials to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution as the highest law of the land.

I believe the City of South Lake Tahoe can and should pass its own simple and easy to impliment regulations, that are based upon protecting the environment AND upholding our sworn duty to protect the Constitutional rights of the citizens of our city. Such rights would include the right of homeowners to add a garage or carport, to repair and maintain their property and to enjoy their property in peace, all without special fees and permits.

Rights delayed are rights denied. The TRPA has a lengthy history of delaying, sometimes for years, basic rights of homeowners. That puts members of the City Council in a position where their oath of office requires them to act and protect our homeowners.

The TRPA cannot invoke the Supremacy Clause, since there is nowhere in the Constitution where the word “environment” is mentioned. So there appears to be no enumerated power upon which to base a Supremacy Clause argument.

The City Council of South Lake Tahoe has the authority to pass its own regulations and a sworn duty to uphold the constitutional rights of our citizens. It is time for the City to replace the complicated, expensive and time-consuming regulations of the TRPA with its own, streamline and simplified land-use regulations. Any City land-use regulations that the TRPA doesn’t like, it can take to a federal court and challenge, but they will have to do so on Constitutional grounds and they will have to argue their case with the burden of proof on them, not our City Council. Meanwhile, the City Council must balance the environment with the Constituion to impliment regulations that protect homeowners and their families.

By Steve Kubby, candidate for South Lake Tahoe City Council. Kubby was the 1998 Libertarian candidate for Governor of California, 2000 and 2008 runner up for the party’s Vice Presidential nomination, and sought its presidential nomination in 2008.

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  1. satori satori October 5, 2010

    Simply put, all possible solutions to the ‘real’ problem will only exacerbate the problem – think of the difference between a ‘root cause’ and a symptom. . . we almost never consider the root, while we are almost always willing to attack symptoms.

    The basic issue is one of bureaucratic timidity, as TRPA blindly follows their hallowed ‘thresholds’ as gospel, when it is so obvious to many that they are essentially obsolete (implied above in ‘ignoring’ the current state of the globe).

    As “regulation is a function of poor design”, there is some credence to looking closer at how Tahoe has done things (i.e., homes that were built by Uncle Fred over 76 weekends but were never designed to be lived in in winter, therefore absent insulation) as the entire United States is a ‘mish-mash’ of scattered development.

    Tahoe needs to be redeveloped due to that, but unless TRPA gathers up the courage to actually look seriously at the foundation of their compact, as they are essentially timid about approaching Congress to change it (not to mention even questioning it), the objections will keep everything here in a political mode. . .

    This is essentially the absence of political will so ofetn mentioned as the missing ingredient – everywhere. . . not necessarily more politics or even yet another “party”.

  2. Steve Kubby Steve Kubby September 21, 2010

    I’m a longtime tree hugger, but I question the validity of the research done by the TRPA. They measure water clarity, but ignore recent global warming and shorter winters, both of which generates more runoff and more algae. None of their “science” has been peer reviewed or even questioned, but is blindly accepted as fact.

  3. NewFederalist NewFederalist September 15, 2010

    Thanks, paulie.

  4. paulie paulie September 15, 2010

    The only other comment found from that same IP is signed Wayne Allyn Root, with the middle name and capitalization. The IP host is in Henderson, NV, where Wayne lives.

  5. paulie paulie September 15, 2010

    Haven’t checked it, but I will since you keep talking about it.

  6. NewFederalist NewFederalist September 15, 2010

    Well, you can see the IP address so I guess you would know.

  7. paulie paulie September 15, 2010

    Probably because he was in a hurry and it’s just a
    quick comment on a blog, not an article of his own?

  8. NewFederalist NewFederalist September 15, 2010

    Why would he post a wayne root as opposed to Wayne Allyn Root? Anyone can link to the website. Perhaps I am just the suspicious type!

  9. paulie paulie September 15, 2010


    As far as I know, it was actually Wayne. What makes you think it wasn’t?

    And Steve, you know you have my support, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again.

  10. NewFederalist NewFederalist September 15, 2010

    I wonder who shilled for Root at #4 above?

  11. David F. Nolan David F. Nolan September 15, 2010

    Good points, well presented. I would hope that the voters in South Lake Tahoe will see the wisdom of Steve’s arguments, and vote accordingly! (Laguna Beach has restrictions that are almost as bad, by the way.)

  12. Steven wilson Steven wilson September 14, 2010

    I believe the most important issue is that the american people have a chance to see what a libertarian can do once in office.

    The one thing I dealt with during the campaign was “I have no idea what people like you would do in power, it has never happened before”.

    Because there is no standard bearer or reference, the american people don’t know what it would be like to have a libertarian in office.

    If you did win, it would be great if there was some kind of exposure to it, to let people see how it works with a libertarian.

    To end the book club would be the biggest victory. To end that voter excuse.

  13. Steve Kubby Steve Kubby September 14, 2010

    Michael, thanks for the offer. I’m hoping that people will pass this essay around and see the wisdom in helping me make this happen. Right now my biggest concern is raising $1,700 to do a mailing to all the voters in my city. We already have a website and donation button at

  14. Steve Kubby Steve Kubby September 14, 2010

    Michael, thanks for the offer. I’m hoping that people will pass this essay around and see the wisdom in helping me make this happen. Right now my biggest concern is raising $1,700 to do a mailing to all the voters in my city.

  15. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson September 14, 2010

    Steve if there is any way we can help, such as research let us know. I know it is late in the game but don’t hesitate to ask.

  16. wayne root wayne root September 14, 2010

    A fantastic commentary Steve! Bravo. I could not have said it better myself. We must elect politicians who fight for the rights of the citizens and who support the Constitution. Politicians like Steve Kubby.

  17. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson September 14, 2010

    Thanks Steve. I was curious as to what was behind the article.

    Unfortunately we have the same thing around the Columbia River Gorge with an interstate compact between Washington and Oregon that oversees all development in that scenic zone. Getting around it is a mess.

  18. Steve Kubby Steve Kubby September 14, 2010

    I wrote this piece specifically for IPR, because I believe the time has come to get libertarians elected to City Councils across the country. Once elected, we will have a real opportunity to restore the Constitution and uphold local control over our lives. This essay is meant to serve as a roadmap to freedom, but it is up to all of us to make that a reality.

  19. Michael H. Wilson Michael H. Wilson September 14, 2010

    Was this an original piece for IPR or is this from another source?

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