Environmental group says L.A. football stadium needs more study
An environmental group that helped a proposed downtown football stadium receive special legislative help in Sacramento issued a sharply worded critique Tuesday of environmental documents prepared for that project.
In a 16-page letter to city officials, the Natural Resources Defense Council called on Anschutz Entertainment Group to rewrite and recirculate a recently released environmental impact report for Farmers Field, saying it failed to fully analyze the health risks created by cars that would head to and from the 72,000-seat facility.
The additional information could be vital for neighborhoods near the stadium, such as working-class Pico-Union, said NRDC attorneys David Pettit and Damon Nagami. The lack of analysis in the report's so-called health risk assessment section renders that document “essentially worthless,” they wrote.
The group’s comments were particularly strong given that the group identifies itself as a backer of the stadium -- and helped AEG secure passage of a state law last year limiting the amount of time that the stadium’s environmental documents could be subjected to a legal challenge. Under that law, challenges would have to be resolved within 175 days.
The NRDC said in its letter – and on an accompanying blog post -- that promises made by AEG in Sacramento were not reflected in the environmental report. The group complained that commitments made to the Clinton Climate Initiative about making the facility “carbon neutral” – and limiting the number of cars heading to and from the stadium -- do not appear in the document. The organization also suggested that certain traffic proposals offered by AEG, such as building parking structures or upgrading freeways, would only lead to more car emissions.
Despite the criticism, Pettit said changes to the report would not affect AEG’s construction time line. “If done promptly and correctly, fixing the [report] should not hold up the opening of the AEG stadium,” he wrote. “I hope to be there on opening day in a stadium that lives up to the promises that AEG has made.”
AEG officials did not immediately respond to the group’s comments. But the director of Sierra Club California, which opposed the stadium bill last year, said letters like those submitted by the NRDC will carry less weight under the expedited legal time line established by the state Legislature.
“There are going to be fewer opportunities to fix [the environmental impact report] through the courts, and AEG is fully aware of that,” Kathryn Phillips said.
--David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Image: Rendering of proposed Farmers Field stadium in downtown L.A. Credit: Anschutz Entertainment Group