On Sunday, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that allows a proposed Los Angeles Clippers arena to receive an expedited judicial review process if it faces a challenge over environmental concerns.
The Clippers are currently exploring a potential new arena in nearby Inglewood, an option the team is considering as it approaches the 2024 expiration of its Staples Center lease. If plans for the Inglewood arena move forward, it would be part of a larger development that includes a practice facility, outdoor plaza, retail space, team offices, a sports medicine center, and perhaps other features.
Under a bill approved by state legislators in late August, and signed by Brown on Sunday, any legal challenge against the Clippers over environmental concerns from the arena project would have to be resolved within 270 days. That would be contingent on the project satisfying certain conditions. More from the Los Angeles Daily News:
“This bill is consistent with AB 900, a bill I signed in 2011, which first established expedited judicial review of certified Environmental Leadership Development Projects,” Brown wrote in a letter to the Assembly. “It allows the Inglewood project to qualify for expedited judicial review if it meets certain standards, including providing traffic reduction benefits and achieving a net zero greenhouse gas emissions standard. This issue requires particular attention here given the potential for high levels of congestion.”
Brown was referring to the fact that, without using taxpayer dollars, AB 987 requires the implementation of measures that reduce greenhouse gases and promote public transportation. It also includes a $30 million environmental fund aimed at reducing pollution in Inglewood and surrounding areas.
In addition, the bill requires the Clippers to employ a “skilled and trained workforce,” hiring 30% locally.
Before it got to Brown, the bill — which was presented by state Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) — was approved unanimously Aug. 31 by lawmakers in the state Assembly and Senate.
Approval of such legislation is not uncommon for certain development projects in California, including new professional sports facilities. In fact, Brown also just signed a similar bill related to a potential new ballpark for MLB’s Oakland A’s.
Discussions over the proposed Clippers arena are still unfolding. It has, however, been subject to opposition from some groups and entities, including Madison Square Garden Co., owner of the nearby Forum. Earlier this year, MSG sued the City of Inglewood and a Clippers-controlled company, contending that Inglewood mayor James Butts knowingly deceived it into surrendering a lease on vacant city-owned land that is being considered for the Clippers arena project. Furthermore, the lawsuit contended that the proposal involving the Clippers violates MSG’s development agreement with the city. Proponents have billed the plan as a job-creator and potential boost to Inglewood’s economy, though groups such as the Uplift Inglewood Coalition have been fighting the concept over its potential effect on housing prices.
If the plans move forward, it is expected that the arena and surrounding development will be constructed with private financing. The development would take place on 27 acres between South Prairie Avenue and South Yukon Avenue, and be located near an under-construction NFL stadium that will open for the Rams and Chargers in 2020.
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