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State lawmakers huddle over football stadium controversy

August 19, 2011 | 11:04 am

With time running out for action, state Assembly Speaker John Perez has convened a group of lawmakers to consider whether to change the law to help pave the way for construction of a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

The Legislature has less than three weeks to act on bills for the year, and Perez has asked fellow Democrats from Los Angeles, Assemblymen Mike Feuer and Bob Blumenfield, as well as Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) to review legislative options for avoiding long delays on the project from expected legal challenges.

"The Speaker asked Mike to participate in informal discussions exploring ways to help create the jobs a downtown stadium could provide while strongly protecting California’s environmental laws," said Arianna Smith, a spokeswoman for Feuer.

Perez asked the three because of their strong credentials as environmentalists, and wants to be proactive in reviewing alternatives so the Assembly is not caught off guard with an eleventh-hour bill, said spokesman John Vigna. "The last few times we had a stadium fight, it was sprung on people at the last minute,'' he said.

The Legislature previously approved an exemption from state environmental laws for a competing stadium project in the city of Industry, but Perez has said he does not support giving the same waiver to Anschutz Entertainment Group for its L.A. proposal. AEG officials have said they are concerned their project might be delayed by "frivolous" lawsuits citing environmental issues.

AEG spokesman Michael Roth said one idea being considered for possible legislation would require any lawsuit to be submitted to binding arbitration so it does not end up in a long court battle. "We started some discussions, with several people, on a short list of potential options for us," Roth said. "That [arbitration] is one on the short list.’’

-- Patrick McGreevy