L.A.-area rail projects would be expedited like NFL stadium
First, lawmakers approved expedited judicial review for an NFL stadium proposed in Los Angeles, then they expanded it to large renewable-energy projects.
And now, legislation has been introduced to give the same special treatment to rail projects in Los Angeles County and other urban areas.
Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) introduced the new bill this week as the Legislature began its new year, saying it would "create thousands of desperately-needed jobs, and give commuters and residents environmentally sound transit options as alternatives to sitting in stopped traffic.''
AB 1444 would help public transit projects throughout California, but it was introduced at the request of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and could assist a possible future rail connection between the San Fernando Valley and L.A.’s Westside, and the Green Line extension to LAX, according to Michael Turner, government relations director for the transit agency.
Feuer’s proposal is similar to legislation approved last year requiring any legal challenge on environmental concerns over Farmers Field, a 72,000-seat stadium project planned for downtown L.A., to be resolved within 175 days. The governor also signed AB 900, which provides the same streamlining to challenges to large renewable-energy projects.
But some environmentalists are reluctant to continually change the landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
"I don’t think expedited environmental review should be extended any further than it now is," said David Pettit, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Let’s see how AB 900 works out before we expand the type of projects that can get special treatment under CEQA."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Mike Feuer at a 2008 press conference. Credit: Irfan Khan Los Angeles Times.