More Stadium Shenanigans in L.A.

Los Angeles has been trying desperately to lure an NFL team back to the city ever since the Raiders and Rams both left town in 1995.  My own hazy memories of pro football in L.A. date all the way back to the late ‘80s, when I was in junior high and Bo Jackson was running roughshod over the Raiders’ hapless opponents.

I’d love for L.A. to have football on Sundays again, but not if it means gutting one of California’s most important environmental laws.  Last fall, my colleague David Pettit blogged about developer Ed Roski’s plans for a new stadium in the City of Industry, and how Mr. Roski got a free pass from the Legislature to avoid court review of the stadium's environmental documents, which are required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

We’ve now learned that a second, competing developer is seeking a sweetheart deal similar to the one Mr. Roski obtained at the end of the last legislative session. The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which also owns the Staples Center, is reported to be putting feelers out to lawmakers in Sacramento about getting another legislative exemption from CEQA – this time to build a stadium in downtown L.A.

When the Industry stadium exemption passed last fall, legislators insisted that it was a one-time thing, and that it was justified because the project at least had obtained a locally approved environmental impact report (EIR), even if the courts could not review it. AEG’s downtown proposal is still in its preliminary stages and has no EIR, but that hasn’t stopped its lobbyists from starting the same conversation with lawmakers.  The precedent has been set, they’re saying, just as we had predicted.

We cannot let this happen again.  These massive development projects are exactly why CEQA was put in place – to require careful scrutiny of the significant environmental impacts of these projects, which includes looking at reasonable alternatives and imposing adequate mitigation measures.  Because CEQA is so critical to protecting this state’s precious natural resources, NRDC, the Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club California, and a host of other groups are doing everything possible to nip this exemption nonsense in the bud.

Developers should not be allowed to pick and choose when they want to follow the rules, and when they don’t.  Even Bo knows that.