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NFL stadium plans in LA targeted by activists

August 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Plans for an NFL stadium in Los Angeles are being targeted by activists, who filed a lawsuit on Thursday.

The Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition is upset about a law that speeds up the legal review process for the planned stadium and convention center in downtown L.A. The coalition is filing a lawsuit against the state of California regarding Senate Bill 292, which makes it somewhat difficult to challenge plans for the stadium by imposing a 175-day time limit on lawsuits challenging the project.

The bill allows any lawsuits filed within that time limit against the 72,000-seat, $1.5-billion stadium to bypass the Los Angeles Superior Court system. Instead, it would be sent straight to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

"The legislature fumbled the ball on this one. It engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct. The courts, our referees, will penalize them, and finally, we will have a level playing field," said Play Fair attorney Dan Stormer.

The bill was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September. Brown said he supports the legislation because it would bring jobs to the area. The coalition, however, says the bill is unconstitutional, arguing that any community near the proposed stadium deserves the same environmental review process that other projects in the state must adhere to.

Stormer said the project will affect housing, traffic and air quality and will have other environmental impacts. He says the bill fast tracks a process that is necessary for environmental protection and the overall well-being of the community.

The coalition says the bill offers a loophole for special interests.

"I was in Sacramento last year when this bill passed, and saw the power of AEG to fundamentally say, 'We don't have to play by the rules,'" said Martha Arguello with the coalition.

Officials with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which is proposing the stadium/convention center project in hopes of luring a National Football League team back to Los Angeles, released the following statement regarding the lawsuit.

"We cannot comment on specifics, as no complaint has been filed. However, the press release trumpeting the forthcoming lawsuit suggests another effort to undermine the state's legislative will. A similar lawsuit was filed earlier this year seeking to strike down AB 900, the companion measure to SB 292. Prior to their adoption last year, both SB 292 and AB 900 were drafted and vetted by Legislative Counsel and the State Legislature. The Attorney General is vigorously defending the case against AB 900 and we expect the same to be done in the face of any challenges to SB 292. We are highly confident in the legality of these legislative measures and fully expect they will survive any legal attacks.

These measures are common sense legislation intended to put people back to work during these difficult times and fully protect and expand the public's participation in the environmental process. Suspect attacks on the legality of these laws demonstrate the very need for the protections they afford against those seeking to abuse the legal system to thwart or delay projects creating beneficial economic development."

The L.A. City Council is currently reviewing the environmental impact report and is expected to vote on it next month.

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