Is Schwarzenegger sidestepping California's environmental policy for a football stadium?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may be bending the rules to get a privately funded NFL stadium built in the city of Industry.
Wed, Oct 28 2009 at 6:55 PM
PROTESTING SOCAL STADIUM: A small group protest the 75,000-seat NFL stadium pushed through by the Govenator himself. (Photo: LA Times)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently thinks that what southern California needs is a little more football. According to the LA Times, Schwarzenegger signed a bill last Thursday that clears the way for construction to begin on a proposed 75,000-seat NFL stadium.
The stadium will be built in the warehouse-filled city of Industry, but the residents of the neighboring town of Walnut are upset. Walnut only has 32,000 residents and critics worry that the stadium will turn their quiet, safe community into a chaotic mess of fans, traffic jams and increased noise.
They’re so upset about the prospect of a stadium that the Walnut City Council filed a lawsuit to block the plan. What did the governor have to say about it? According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Schwarzenegger said, "I will terminate the frivolous lawsuit and clear the way for construction." (Yeah, he actually said he would "terminate" it. ha ha.)
But just how did Schwarzenegger terminate the lawsuit?
“The bill he signed into law exempted the 75,000-seat stadium proposal from an environmental review process,” according to the SGV Tribune article.
Some people feel this eco-exemption precedent is a scary one. After all, what might happen next? Will this become a habit? Another LA Times article quotes Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg as saying, "If anybody thinks this is a precedent that allows them to ignore California's environmental laws, it isn't." On the other hand, you have folks like Long Beach Democratic Sen. Alan Lowenthal saying the exemption has "mortally wounded" California's environmental laws.
So which is the case? Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
The LA Times says billionaire developer Ed Roski Jr. has, “situated the stadium in a city incorporated as a home for industrial commerce … before he proposed the project, the 600 acres involved were to be used for a warehouse complex with 24-hour-a-day diesel traffic. In its place, his Majestic Realty intends to build the National Football League's first certified LEED stadium.”
In addition, the stadium will provide a temporary 12,000 construction jobs and another 6,000 permanent jobs to a county plagued by a widespread job crisis. Taking this into consideration, some advocates say the stadium project has not only complied with the Environmental Quality Act, but also will provide the greenest outcome for the area.
Yet the fact remains — the usual channels were bypassed to push the project through. Whether you call it a precedent or not, this stadium may be the start of a whole new ballgame in LA LA land.
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