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Assembly OKs fast-track of NFL stadium in LA

A new NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles is closer to reality.
September 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The California State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday to speed construction of a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. It must now be approved by the state senate. Other cities are now clamoring for the same kind of deal, and the plan could be amended.

"Farmers Field will be the most far-reaching and environmentally friendly stadium in the U.S.," said state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles).

A proposal for an NFL stadium in Los Angeles is sailing through the California Legislature in the final days of session. To spur jobs faster, it allows legal challenges under the landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to go directly to the California Court of Appeals, which must rule in 175 days and by doing so, shaves off up to three years in potential delays.

Even Republicans are getting behind the bill.

"We need to have a little relaxation of the airtight, unreasonable rules on there is on CEQA right now," said state Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale).

But cities like San Diego worry about a special deal just for Los Angeles, which could lure the Chargers away.

"They can't continue to play in Qualcomm. Qualcomm's very old. So we're thinking, well, if they built one in L.A., they may go," said state Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego).

So Democrats hope to make last-minute changes to the bill to include other projects in other cities.

The San Francisco 49ers would like the same environmental considerations for the team's new stadium.

Maybe even San Diego could compete with L.A. if an environmental review for a new stadium is expedited.

In Senate President Darrell Steinberg's (D-Sacramento) backyard, it could mean keeping the Sacramento Kings from leaving to go to Anaheim.

"We have got to get people back to work. People are hurting and we aren't violating CEQA in any way," said Steinberg.

But the Sierra Club doesn't like this last-minute tinkering of the decades-old CEQA law that ensures affected local residents have a way to fight back a stadium plan.

"This is a game-changer in the way that it says if you want to enforce your CEQA rights, you go to the Court of Appeals only. You don't get to argue in Superior Court," said Michael Endicott, a spokesperson for Sierra Club California.

The stadium bill and its changes must be approved by Friday, or otherwise supporters will have to wait until January to try again.


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