Legislation that is being discussed would directly affect a proposed LA Clippers arena, granting the project certain leeway under state environmental law.
The Clippers and the City of Inglewood are currently engaged in a three-year exclusive negotiation window that could lead to the team constructing a new arena in the city. If built, the arena would be located near a currently-under-construction NFL stadium that is expected to open in 2020 as the home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
A preliminary legislation draft written by state senator Steven Bradford would give the arena project certain breaks under the California Environmental Quality Act. For instance, lawsuits against the project under CEQA would have to work to be completed within nine months, while the bill would also implement limits on the court’s ability to stop construction, and give the city more leeway in the number of signs and billboards it approves around the venue.
The Clippers, as well as Inglewood mayor James Butts, have expressed their support for the proposal, which is being introduced as the current state legislative session winds down. More from The Los Angeles Times:
“The L.A. Clippers will fully comply with the California Environmental Quality Act for its proposed city of Inglewood basketball arena and team facilities,” [arena project manager Chris] Meany said. “This compliance will include an open and transparent public hearing process.”
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said in an email to the Times that the city supports the proposed legislation and sought the help of its representatives in Sacramento to ease development of the arena and transit hub.
CEQA, as the California Environmental Quality Act is commonly known, has often been criticized for halting or substantially slowing projects including stadiums, housing developments and even bike lanes. At the same time, CEQA has been credited with helping preserve the state’s natural beauty — and has the support of powerful environmental and labor interests.
Should Bradford introduce a measure to help move along construction of the Clippers arena, it’s expected to kick up a major legislative fight in the final weeks before lawmakers adjourn for the year in mid-September. Scott Wetch, a well-known labor lobbyist who represents electricians, plumbers and pipe fitters in Los Angeles and has worked on behalf of past stadium legislation, said he expects to help support the effort.
The Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Forum arena in Inglewood, has been outspoken in opposition to the development, and has hired the powerful lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs to oppose any legislation.
The Clippers, who entered into the negotiation window with Inglewood this summer, have a lease at the Staples Center that expires in 2024. The Inglewood City Council recently voted to scale back the amount of land proposed for the project, after opposition to an earlier footprint was raised by area residents.
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