Opinion: Explaining reasons to file fireworks suit


By Joan and Joe Truxler

In November, we made the difficult decision to file a lawsuit under the federal Clean Water Act. We do not want to stop the fireworks; and if the lawsuit is successful, we cannot gain financially. Our only motivation is to protect the lake.

On July 5, 2013, our neighbors in Marla Bay collected over two trash barrels full of fireworks debris that had washed ashore. The next day, more debris appeared. Our 3-year-old grandson found a fuse and brought it to us in his hand. Since then, we have collected over 8,000 pieces of fireworks pollution. It is composed of hard plastic and fuses that are cobbled together with cardboard, paper, string and various types of adhesives. Some pieces were ingested and passed through dogs and coyotes. Many were tangled with dead crayfish. To date, the debris continues to wash ashore eight months after the Fourth. We continue to comb PineWild, Marla Bay and Nevada beaches to pick up the debris by hand.

We never wanted a lawsuit. When the debris began accumulating in July, we contacted several agencies. But the companies responsible for the pollution never responded. Then, it occurred all over again after the Labor Day 2013 fireworks. Again, the responsible companies failed to respond even though they had been aware of the problem since they were contacted by the TRPA on July 8, 2013. Since then, they have declined our invitations to walk the beach, view the debris, and work together to solve this problem, despite the fact that much of the pollution has their name (“Pyro Spectaculars”) printed clearly on it.

Under the Clean Water Act, private citizens like ourselves cannot gain a cent if we win in court. We hope to stop or minimize the pollution washing up on our beaches, protect the lake, and begin a public discussion about the strong protection that an enforceable Clean Water Act permit will provide. If we are successful, decisions on how to clean up after fireworks shows will be public—not something left to private parties or us.

The beauty of Tahoe’s water is vitally important to our community, to our businesses, and to our visitors. Because we value these things so highly, we filed suit to protect the lake from needless pollution and assure a public process to address pollution from future fireworks shows.

Joan and Joe Truxler live in Zephyr Cove and have filed a lawsuit against the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

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Comments (49)
  1. All of south shore says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Boo!

  2. Tahoe Gal says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    As you can see by the comments on the other article, no one is buying into your….” Poor me, we just had to do it…..it’s for your own good” approach. As I stated earlier, if you were really concerned, the money you are paying your attorney would have gone to pay a clean up crew and to pay for fixture clean up crews and you would be money ahead. Instead you give no regard to the financial impact that you will have on thousands on locals….you remember them don’t you? They are the ones that clean your house, mow your lawn, bag your groceries and serve your food to you at the restaurants. You will have a far reaching effect on them, but don’t worry, you don’t have to tell your Keep Tahoe Blue, Sierra Club Bay Area friends about that, at the next cocktail party, I’m sure you will continue to play the part and tell them how you have saved the lake from the ignorant locals……….

  3. Lisa says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    How about this……after the concerts at Lakeview commons beach there is garbage. But people rally and volunteer to PICK IT UP! No lawsuits. You can’t threaten 2 of the largest events of the year on a whim. There are other, less radical, solutions. These fireworks shows have been going on for 30 years. If this lawsuit happens it will threaten every other firework display around the lake. Two of our biggest tourist (and local) events will “dry up”. Get off your high horse. You are not God or the regulator of the lake. Give the people of this community a break and stand down from this insanity.

    BTW, how long have you lived in Tahoe and what business’s do you own here?

  4. Frank says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    “I just had to sue because I didn’t get the calls I wanted, the attention I sought, and the media exposure for my lawyer,” that’s what this case is about. The lawyer in this case is seeking fame, the Truxler’s seeking attention and when our businesses suffer they could care less. Shame on them

  5. Lisa says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    BTW, how long have you lived in Tahoe? What business’s do you own here?

  6. Haddi T. Uptahere says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Frank, shame on them for making our businesses suffer? What about shame on our businesses for not deferring a portion of the profit they make for clean up? Seems like everyone is willing to belly up to the trough but no one wants to take responsibility for the aftermath. Not a big fan of carpetbaggers from the Bay myself, but these folks seem to be very altruistic in their endeavors. I get the feeling they just want someone to take the responsibility for their actions. If you make a mess clean it up. There is no “Lake Mother” to do it for you.

  7. Hmmm says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    “Some pieces were ingested and passed through dogs and coyotes. Many were tangled with dead crayfish.”
    I don’t think any dog or coyote could be so dumb or hungry to eat paper and plastic. I wonder if Mr Truxler has been collecting coyote poop to take home and pick though to prove his point. 8,000 pieces of trash is a joke. That’s around 30 pieces a day every day after the fireworks. I think they are just picking up normal gaper trash and blaming the fireworks. One last thing if your’e trying to save the lake, the crayfish are an invasive species and should not be here just like you guys.

  8. mrs.t says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Truxlers,

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions and your good intentions of cleaning up pollution will be the death knell of our community if the South Shore fireworks are cancelled. I suggest if you give a rat’s a*& about the people who live here full time, who work here, who own businesses here, that you drop your lawsuit and come up with other solutions. Call Carol Chaplin of LTVA — I bet she could get a call back from the pyrotecnic folks. Offer to host a party on the 5th for everyone who shows up in kayaks or walks the shore to pick up trash. Heck, us locals do that after the Lakeview Commons events. Otherwise you are perpetuating the stereotype that you rick folks care more about trees than people.

  9. hikerchick says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    What’s the big deal about expecting the fireworks business and promoters to clean up after themselves? If everyone were allowed to trash the environment in this fashion where would we be? Not only is the trash unsightly but the plastics and other things like fuses and wires are a danger to children and wildlife. The Truxlers do not want to end the fireworks; they merely want to protect the lake and the shoreline. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more demand for cleanup. After all, everyone here profits from a clean environment. This isn’t rocket science, we can pull together to have a great 4th and a clean shoreline.

  10. Phil Blowney says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    While the good intentions may be there, why do so many issues have to be confronted with attournies and lawsuits? This town is known for its giving and voulenteers. Look at what Kenny Kurtsweiler does year after year cleaning up the mess people leave behind all over the beach on the fourth FOR FREE! I know without a doubt the LTVA would have addressed any issues to have whatever reminants of the fireworks picked up! How about a face to face with Carol or Pat as they are dedicated to create as many special events that bring tourist visits and please the locals as well as we protect our enviornment.

  11. Haaaa says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Why don’t you leave them alone. How about, all of you whiners go to the beaches they talk about and clean it yourself. Why should the Truxlers pay to pick up trash someone else is clearly responsible for? Get a life. And, people will still come to Tahoe even if there are no fireworks. Really, they will come.

  12. Chief Slowroller says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    $10.00 says the Truxler’s are connected to the TRPA.

    stopping the economy is part of the Marvelous Makeover.

    it reminds me of the Lady who sued Jimbo about the noise from his Bar.

    it was not about the noise she was connected to Caesar’s Entertainment and they did not want the competition

  13. A.B. says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Dear Joe & Joan:

    You stated that you never wanted to litigate? Please tell us publicly what actions you took prior to litigation in order to mitigate the situation. What communication did you have with LTVA prior to litigating?

    I don’t expect you to answer these questions. Democrats like yourselves are the reason why this nation has come to despise the progressive movement.

  14. South Shore says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Joan & Joe,

    Thank You! Please keep up the good work. Sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to get people’s attention. There should be nothing controversial about cleaning up after your own mess. Sure, there are very kind people out there who go out and clean up after events, but that should only be a fallback. The companies who create the mess in the first place should have to be the first ones to go out and clean.

    Also picking up trash after a beach party is easier on a volunteer than picking up hundreds and hundreds of pieces scattered all over the water. Seems like that would require equipment that individuals don’t always have.

  15. Jack Durst says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Endless lawsuits are not going to fix the Lake Tahoe environment; all suits that threaten the core of the economic sustainability of this community do is alienate the population against environmental protection. There are plenty of things that could be done to address this legitimate environmental problem without having to threaten the viability of the two biggest tourist nights of the summer.

    Don’t kid yourselves, folks, the tourists come here on fireworks holidays because we have one of the best small town fireworks displays anywhere, and nowhere near as many would come if we didn’t do it. (Why else would our local sponsors shell out so much money for it every year? It brings *huge* profits to everyone.)

    Shame on the Truxlers for thinking that a lawsuit was the answer; and shame on LTVA/Pyro Spectaculars Inc for not taking the threat seriously and settling for a trash pickup agreement long before the lawsuit was even filed.

  16. Observer says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Shame on you for not seeking to address this the common sense way before rushing to an attorney. People like you make me sick. Get out of Tahoe and go live in Los Angeles, you’ll be in good company there.

  17. J&B says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    hikerchick – you called it. Unlike many things in Tahoe, there is an easy solution here. The company and others who profit greatly from the fireworks need to clean up their mess. Plain and simple. NOT stop the fireworks. If everyone were allowed to trash Tahoe, we wouldn’t have the Tahoe we all now enjoy and people would not want to come to Tahoe (fireworks or not). Been to the beach lately? Our shorelines are horrible. This did not just happen overnight.

    As for trying to get someone to do something about it first – the agencies have stopped enforcing anything that might upset the big guns. Big resort dollars over protecting the Lake. I wish the Truxler’s luck. They did this for the Lake, knowing they would likely get some major backlash in the public eye.

  18. Rhinopoker says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    The fireworks show has been happening for over 30 years why are we now just hear about all this trash and endangerment to wildlife. Did this not happen before or was it ignored or picked up? As to why others don’t go to the Truxlers beach and help with the cleanup is that it is most likely private property, gated and that would be trespassing.

    I agree that maybe business and private donations could work to offset clean up costs for the trash. Maybe a floating containment area around the barge to keep the trash from getting spread to far. Many other lakes do the same thing with out threat of lawsuits. Your approach is hallow and typical of some one who has no solution only money and an attorneys.

  19. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    I believe that the real reason for this lawsuit is to attempt the establishment of a legal precedent so that ALL fireworks displays on the Lake will be shut down. This would aid certain Bay Area elitists toward their elimination of all those pesky, unrefined tourists to Lake Tahoe while so damaging the basin economics that the majority of those unwanted locals would also be run out of the basin, with the exception of a necessary few that would need to remain to tend to those elitists needs. Lake Tahoe could then be returned to those individuals who consider themselves of privilege, much like in the early 1900’s.

    This is typical Bay Area mentality; lawsuits are always the first course of action because they tie up everything until those being sued run out of money to continue their fight. It is because of people like this that my spouse and I left our home of nearly 40-years in Menlo Park and the area where my wife was born and grew up. We just couldn’t stand the people that had moved in to the Bay Area anymore, and now they want to bring what they did to that area up here. People need to fight this tried and true legal tactic unless they’re satisfied with giving away Lake Tahoe to those select few with deep pockets, because they are coming to take it.

  20. cosa pescado says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    “you are paying your attorney would have gone to pay a clean up crew and to pay for fixture clean up crews and you would be money ahead.”
    So they should be responsible for cleaning up someone else’s mess?
    Come one people, these are Kindergarten rules. You want to paint, you clean up your mess when you are done. LTVA was irresponsible.

  21. Really? says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Yes, this is a giant well-funded conspiracy by those dangerous, devious and privileged outsiders who would kick out us regular folks and turn Tahoe into their private playground. Let’s get real, get our heads out of the sand and take responsibility for our stuff. A lot of the provincial attitudes displayed here would make great fodder for the Colbert Report. Stop being laughable and encourage our civic leaders to do what they should have been doing all along. Maybe we can all get together and actually help them do it!

  22. orale says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Many thanks to the Truxlers for putting themselves in the line of fire and ire in order to protect the Lake.

    To some of the more vicious comments on this story: shame on you. We should all pick up after ourselves here at the Lake. And we should all pick up after others – to a point. But only to a point.

  23. J says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    @Haaaa

    many of us including myself actually do bring bags too many of the remote beaches that we visit and pick up the trash we find. Been doing it for 13 years. its not my trash. I suggest you try something similar when you’re done drooling on your keyboard.

    The Truxlers may have done good by bringing this to the attention of the community, but a lawsuit? what a joke.

  24. Ridiculousness says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    The Truxlers current mailing address is in Zephyr Cove, so it looks like they live here full time now.

    I agree with them that the debris should not be left washed up on shore. They should consider dropping the lawsuit if the company putting the fireworks on agrees to additional clean up crews to respond to debris fields or at least organize a volunteer crew to do the same. I have a kayak and will travel :) Hopefully they don’t have us arrested for trespassing on their private beach while cleaning up.

    The Truxlers should have contacted the local news media more often to bring this problem to light with locals first. We don’t know there is a problem when we don’t hear about it…

  25. Arod says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    I have no problem with these folks bringing a lawsuit. They tried to get the agencies to take action and they did not. The idea that volunteers could tackle the trash issue is absurd, nobody shows up.
    I could care less about the fireworks. They are a glorification of war.

  26. jay says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    sounds like propaganda to me

    “On July 5, 2013, our neighbors in Marla Bay collected over two trash barrels full of fireworks debris that had washed ashore. The next day, more debris appeared. Our 3-year-old grandson found a fuse and brought it to us in his hand. Since then, we have collected over 8,000 pieces of fireworks pollution. It is composed of hard plastic and fuses that are cobbled together with cardboard, paper, string and various types of adhesives. Some pieces were ingested and passed through dogs and coyotes. Many were tangled with dead crayfish. To date, the debris continues to wash ashore eight months after the Fourth. We continue to comb PineWild, Marla Bay and Nevada beaches to pick up the debris by hand.”

  27. jay says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    im sure your car, your boat, your lake front property and wasteful lifestyle do plenty of polluting for you

  28. sunriser2 says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    I participate in the beach/shoreline clean-up at least once a year sometimes twice. I have never seen any fireworks debris but have heard employees at Nevada Beach talk about cleaning it up.

    It seems like people have been dealing with the issue quite well for decades. Why not leave it alone?

    Currently I think the beaches are as clean as I can remember.

    In the beginning we would remove large items tires, worn-out inflatable toys and the like. Now mostly small items and cigarette butts.

    I have picked up lots of water bottles and deposable diapers why not outlaw them?

  29. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Really?

    I don’t know where you’re from but after living on the Peninsula for 50-years my unfortunate experience was watching the eventual change that came about by those interlopers who believed themselves of great privilege and ruined the entire character of what was once a very nice place to live. It became commonplace for an Atherton wanna-be to move into a mini-mansion in a working neighborhood and then start telling all the long-time residents what they had to do, such as get rid of their dogs so that the new interloper wouldn’t hear any barking, and then they’d proceed to harass by constant complaints to the Humane Society. The dog barking circumstance was only one small example of what these individuals that hold themselves in such high regard are capable of.

    Devious they are, and also unwanted. Don’t be so naïve.

  30. ZZ Top says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    I agree 100% with the law suit.

    You can’t say that everything else has to be designed to protect the lake’s water and then go and blow fireworks off that then end up landing in the water.

    That would be hypocrisy.

  31. sunriser2 says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    I wonder if they will be like the woman who shutdown the music at the airport bar a few years back?
    Ruined it for everyone else then moved away.

  32. joe dooks says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    The Truxlers may have used a bit of hyperbole to make their point for suit, but they have a case for complaining about the trash. One only need to drive along highway 50 on the 5th of July to see the mess left behind.

    As is the case with the passing of many good things, people abuse access to certain events, only to discover later that the events are gone. They are gone because good people become fed up with the trashy was of others and take action. In this case the Truxlers have had enough and they have taken action.

  33. ljames says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    I don’t think any dog or coyote could be so dumb or hungry to eat paper and plastic.

    you find paper, plastic and aluminum foils in coyote and bear scat all the time – in case “hhmmmmm” didnt realize it, these animals dont have hands to remove the wrappers!

    anyway, it’s really interesting what brings out all the diatribe from folks. I am getting pretty convinced if this a random sampling of the quality of discourse in SLT, then its time to say “the h*** with saving the lake”, and maybe it’s just time to leave it to all the folks that miss the good ol’ days of sitting in your yard filled with three years worth of debris, smoking cigarettes, watching your dog run loose, and drinking cheap beer till you pass out!

  34. Greg says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Way to throw in that bit about a child and a fuse.

  35. BlueWatersAqui says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    Been here almost 30 years and pick up trash year round on most of the south shore beaches. Seen around 10 firework shows, but pick up trash after every one. Majority of the fireworks’ remains wash ashore at Nevada Beach, Lakeside Park, Tahoe Meadows, Connolley and El Dorado beaches year in, year out. Maybe it is the price you pay for living lake front, but the amount of money and time on a lawyer could have been better spent on some exercise picking up firework trash or hiring some local youth/adults to come by and routinely remove the remains of the shows from your pristine beach.

    Be proactive in your community, get involved with your neighbors instead of using lawyers and lawsuits. Shame on you Truxlers for not using more commonsense and being more neighborly.

  36. Haaaa says - Posted: March 25, 2014

    @ J. Why the hostility? I don’t drool and I can actually form a gramatically correct sentence. Mayhaps you should try it.

  37. Hmmm says - Posted: March 26, 2014

    @Ljames

    As I said before I don’t think they just eat paper. You find those things in their $h!t because yes they don’t have hands and when they are in your trash they are eat scraps of food not just paper itself. Do you really think a coyote or dog would walk down the shore line and just eating pieces of paper? These people are seeing gapers trash and blaming it on the fireworks. Why hasn’t this been a big deal over the 30 years. If it hasn’t been getting cleaned up why hasn’t it built up? This is a lie and crap!

  38. Disgusted with lawsuits says - Posted: March 26, 2014

    We all want to protect the lake, but there has to be some kind of balance between environmentalism and common sense. This is a knee jerk reaction to something that could be resolved over coffee! This is an easily remedied situation that certainly did not need to be litigated. There are clean up efforts already in effect after the fireworks shows. Maybe those efforts need to be improved. But stop pointing the finger at who should be doing it and get to work! There are people in this community that would happily help with cleanup should they be allowed on Pinewilds private beach to do so. But is that really the Truxlers goal? To make sure the debris is cleaned up? I suppose we will see the true intent as this lawsuit unfolds. Actions speak louder than words and I believe the Truxlers agenda is completely different than what they are trying to portray in this press release, given who they have representing them and backing their efforts (Sierra Club, again, and other environmentalist groups. Where did their attorney previously work at?). I sincerely hope they take a more diplomatic approach to whatever they are trying to accomplish. I can’t speak for all Tahoe locals, but I am personally sick of it- the lawsuits. Especially coming from people that have recently moved here and then pull the Not In My Backyard/NIMBY bologna, or who don’t even live here at all. All this money spent to litigate could have been better spent to address the actual issue. It’s disgraceful and the Truxlers should be embarrassed that they escalated things to this level. If the fireworks go away because of their actions, it would be terrible for an already struggling economy. I hope that doesn’t happen, for the sake of all of us that have to make a living and rely on tourism for our paychecks, but who actively participate in helping to keep the lake clean too. The lake is fine! These shows have been going on for years without detriment. This is easily solved with additional debris clean up following the shows. It’s that simple.

  39. Max Dog says - Posted: March 26, 2014

    I applaud the truxlers for their courage and agree that fireworks debris washing ashore is unacceptable. if the powers that be will not cooperate in cleaning up their mess, then other stronger measures need to be taken to hold them accountable. truxler’s…you are my heros! thank you for making a difference, and taking action when no one else has the courage to do something about this unacceptable issue!

  40. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: March 26, 2014

    If the LTVA can get the Truxlers to drop their suit against the folks that put it on(LTVA) and also the company that shoot off the fireworks, thereby causing pollution and trash created by the fireworks display, we’re part way there.
    LTVA has to agree to doing an extensive clean up of the lake and affected beaches, either by volunteers or folks looking to make a few bucks doing some part time work.
    So their lawyers have to talk to the other lawyers..oops, urrg, gag. The “L” word , short for lawyer,is almost as bad as the “C” word! “C” being short for, dare I say it? “Consultant”. There I said it and I’m only slightly nauseous.
    So come on lawyers lets settle this thing and have a good 4th of July fireworks show on the lake. If you can’t come to terms, I’m calling a consultant, they always fix everything, just ask the city council!!!
    Old Long Skiis

  41. Harbinger says - Posted: March 26, 2014

    This letter does not add up. “We never wanted a lawsuit.” “We do not want to stop the fireworks.” Really? If you didn’t want to stop the fireworks and didn’t want a lawsuit, then you would have spent your time and money organizing a clean up rather than filing a lawsuit. I agree with USMC; if this couple wins their lawsuit they will shut down all the firework displays around the lake.

  42. Riley Wyatt says - Posted: March 26, 2014

    Where’s the League to Save Lake Tahoe when all this is going on? They are conspicuous by their lack of involvement and comment. Search online and you will find that the Truxler’s lawyer has a represented the League in the past. Is there a connection? I smell something and am concerned. Maybe collusion. Do all 3 parties have a relationship and all of them hate fireworks? We love the Lake and the fireworks. Open talk and a solution is needed. Get of your high horse Truxlers and consider the bigger picture before its too late. Do you really want your legacy to be you were the ones who stopped the Lake Tahoe firework tradition? You’ll be the death of us.

  43. Ridiculousness says - Posted: March 27, 2014

    In the Truxler’s first paragraph of this op-ed piece, they state “We do not want to stop the fireworks” yet on page 14 (lines 14-16) of their lawsuit complaint, they state the following:

    b. Enjoin Defendants from discharging fireworks and exploded fireworks debris from any mortar tubes, vessels, or other point sources unless authorized by a NPDES permit;

    I’m sure the LTVA will not want to continue doing something they are being sued for so the Truxlers are effectively stopping the fireworks. From the CA state water resources website it says the NPDES permit process will take a minimum of 6 months to obtain and may take longer depending on the type of discharge. This certainly eliminates any chance of having the fireworks for this entire year. Unless the lawsuit is dropped of course.

  44. Really? says - Posted: March 27, 2014

    To Riley Wyatt:

    I suspect that if we went through legal records to find out which attorneys have represented which clients in town here over the years we would find that attorneys are much like contractors–they work for whomever hires them and the sides they take are sometimes complimentary and sometimes 180* in the opposite direction. There is no conspiracy here. Someone has tried repeatedly to get agencies to look at firework debris and no one even returned her phone calls so she sought legal action to protect the lake. Let’s stop with the conspiracy theories already and get to work on the task in front of us.

  45. rock4tahoe says - Posted: March 27, 2014

    So. Let’s NOT fix the pollution problem from the Fireworks Show? Let’s NOT hold the promoters of the Show to higher standards? Let’s ATTACK the Truxler’s because they went out and had the audacity to try to do something about the mess?

    The bottom line is, h e l l with Lake Tahoe, bring on the Show and we will tar and feather anyone that disagrees? Wow! What and absolutely LAME example of a community.

  46. Headquarters says - Posted: March 27, 2014

    I’m starting to get really sick of this town….

  47. luna49 says - Posted: March 30, 2014

    Keep Tahoe Blue. Keep Tahoe Pristine. Keep profiteers accountable. Thanks to the Truxler’s for stepping up. Shame on LTVA for copping this attitude instead of just doing what was right.

  48. Hmmm... says - Posted: April 5, 2014

    That ‘Hmmm” is NOT this ‘Hmmm…”

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