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Groups take Pasadena to court over hosting NFL team at Rose Bowl

January 4, 2013 |  7:09 pm

A coalition of neighborhood groups sued Pasadena on Thursday in an effort to block the city from temporarily hosting an NFL team at the Rose Bowl.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accuses the City Council of violating state environmental laws when it voted in November to increase the number of events at the city-owned stadium. Currently, 12 events are allowed in a year, but that would increase to 25 if a deal is struck with a professional football team.

The Coalition for Preservation of the Arroyo wants the court to require Pasadena to halt its plans to court the NFL until it complies with state environmental laws and local ordinances.

“Over substantial public objection, the city pre-committed to a prospective NFL lease via bureaucratic  and financial momentum,” said the lawsuit, which was filed by attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley.

The proposal to temporarily host a team should a stadium be built in Los Angeles has been controversial since its inception. Especially after Pasadena voters previously rejected a bid to bring an NFL team to the city.

But Rose Bowl and city officials say hosting a team at a stadium that is already home to UCLA football and the annual Rose Bowl game could provide a significant economic boost to local government and area businesses.

The coalition spearheading the complaint is made up of the East Arroyo Neighborhood Protection Committee, Linda Vista-Annandale Assn. and San Rafael Neighborhoods Assn.

The lawsuit also took issue with the environmental impact report on an NFL team playing at the Rose Bowl. Plaintiffs argue that the study failed to analyze potential effects and mitigation measures for the Arroyo Seco parklands.

The EIR, released last year, found that Pasadena would see a significant and unavoidable increase in noise, traffic and air pollution if an NFL team were to play at the Rose Bowl for up to five years. However, the most severe effects would be temporary and manageable.

Pasadena Councilman Victor Gordo, who is also president of the Rose Bowl Operating Co., said he was confident the EIR and the city’s actions would withstand a lawsuit. He said he wasn't surprised opponents filed suit.

Pasadena adopted the EIR and voted to increase the number of events in order to have discussions with an NFL team in the future, he said.

“Any potential deal that results from those discussions would have to be respectful of the surrounding parkland and neighborhoods,” Gordo said. “And it would have to make financial sense for both the city and the stadium, it has to be a good deal for Pasadena otherwise there will be no deal.”

Gordo said the NFL has yet to approach Pasadena.

“The NFL EIR must identify and the city must adopt full and adequate protective mitigations first,” said Nina Chomsky, president of the Linda Vista-Annandale Assn.

“Destructive degradation of our neighborhoods and the Central Arroyo is insufficiently mitigated and not acceptable to cover Rose Bowl fiscal shortfalls, gaps and overruns.”

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-- Adolfo Flores
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