The City of Inglewood and the Los Angeles Clippers are getting help from Sacramento that could significantly speed up development of the proposed basketball arena. Supporters of the development are hoping to get approval to amend state legislation that would reduce the time allowed for environmental review and fast track plans for connecting local transit to the future sports and entertainment hub.
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Jr. confirmed that he is leading the lobbying efforts to amend time and environmental review restraints in order to move the project along. “I have been asking that our representatives now provide the residents and children of Inglewood with the same legal tool to spur economic growth that has been provided to AEG (Farmers Field), the Sacramento Kings (NBA arena) and the Golden State Warriors (NBA arena) to expedite construction of those facilities by limiting the time period in which CEQA challenges must be filed and resolved,” he told an L.A. Times reporter.
Basically, Inglewood and the Clippers organization want a deal similar to one that stadium builders got in Northern California. Legislation was supported in 2013 which allowed developers to speed up construction of the Sacramento Kings basketball arena.
The amended draft would require any lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act to be wrapped up within nine months. CEQA is an environmental watchdog agency that requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment.
“Too many times CEQA lawsuits are abused to eliminate perceived competition as opposed to ensure environmental protection,” Butts said. “Every development project in Inglewood has in the past and will in the future continue to undergo a complete, thorough and rigorous CEQA analysis and review.”
The draft proposal, if approved, would limit the court’s ability to halt construction, even if flaws—such as an inadequate study of traffic—were found in the environmental review.
The proposal would also provide legal relief to a new transit hub that could include a street car or monorail for easier access to the new arena and the nearby under-construction NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers, according to the Times.
State Senator Steve Bradford, who represents Inglewood, has authored the bill, which is expected to be attract strong opposition.
Not surprisingly, Madison Square Garden, which owns the Forum and is suing the City of Inglewood, is against the legislation. In a statement, MSG called the proposed bill a “blank check” to the Clippers.
Citing job creation as part of the motivation behind the proposed bill, Butts said the legislation will “shorten the wait for quality, prevailing wage construction jobs and full-time employment opportunities that our residents and the Los Angeles County region have waited decades for.”
In a statement, Chris Meany, the project manager for the arena, confirmed that the Clippers was supporting the proposal in the Legislature.