State lawmakers on Friday submitted legislation that would expedite any legal challenges to a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles, and the measure drew objections from some environmentalists in and out of the Legislature.
Assembly Speaker John Perez and state Sen. Alex Padilla, both Democrats from Los Angeles, said their bill would balance the need to uphold environmental laws with they necessity to help a project by Anschutz Entertainment Group that could create more than 10,000 jobs.
"It would pave the way for the most environmentally friendly sports stadium in the country in addition to putting thousands of people to work," said Padilla. Fourteen other Assembly members and 11 senators, both Republicans and Democrats, have signed on as co-authors.
But with just four working days next week to act on legislation for the year, many legislators had not seen the bill's language, and some said they are in no rush to make a decision by Sept. 9, which AEG has said is necessary to avoid jeopardizing the project.
"I think it's more important that we get it done right than we get it done fast," said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), chairman of the chamber's Environmental Quality Committee. "Whenever someone tries to sell you something and sets an artificial deadline, it's time to remember the old adage 'buyer beware.'"'
Simitian said he is "encouraged" that the bill does not exempt the stadium from the state environmental laws and requires a full environmental impact report, but he added that "I have not seen a piece of paper" containing the bill's language.
As those details emerged, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who had tentatively supported the idea of an expedited court-review process on Thursday, said there are too many loopholes for the group to support the bill in its current form.
The bill does not contain strong enough language to make sure AEG meets goals for reducing air pollution and traffic congestion in a timely way, said David Pettit, senior attorney with the environmental group.
The deal, as proposed, would "give AEG special treatment in return for things that AEG would need to do anyway," Pettit said in a statement. "This weak, last-minute, backroom deal is a missed opportunity for Los Angeles and a dangerous precedent for California. It can and should be fixed."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento