Assembly OKs stadium bill, could help new 49er stadium plans

September 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A bill sailing through the Legislature to fast-track the construction of a football stadium in Los Angeles could benefit the San Francisco 49ers too. Sponsors plan to add the 49ers Santa Clara stadium project to the bill on Thursday. It waves some environmental regulations that could hold-up construction.

"Farmers Field will be the most far-reaching and environmentally-friendly stadium in the United States," said Assm. Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.

A proposal for an NFL stadium in Los Angeles is sailing through the Legislature in the final days of session to spur jobs faster, it allows any legal challenges under the landmark California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, to go directly to the Court of Appeals which must rule in 175 days and by so, shaves up to three years in potential delays. Even Republicans are getting behind the bill.

"We need to have a little relaxation of the air-tight, unreasonable rules on CEQA right now," said St. Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale.

But cities like San Diego worry about a special deal just for L.A., which could lure the Chargers away.

"They can't continue to play in Qualcomm. Qualcomm is very old, so we're thinking if they built one in L.A., they may go," said St. Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.

So Democrats hoping to make last-minute changes to the bill to include other projects in other cities.

The 49ers would like the same environmental considerations for their new stadium. Maybe even San Diego could compete with L.A. if an environmental review for a new stadium is expedited. In Sen. President Darrell Steinberg's backyard, it could mean keep the Sacramento Kings from leaving to go to Anaheim.

"We have got to get people back to work. People are hurting and we aren't violating CEQA in anyway," said Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

But the Sierra Club doesn't like this last minute tinkering of the decades-old CEQA law that ensures affected local residents have a way to fight back a stadium plan.

"This is a game changer in the way that it says if you want to enforce your CEQA rights, you go to the Court of Appeals only. You don't get to argue in Superior Court," said Michael Endicott from Sierra Club California.

The stadium bill and its changes must be approved by Friday otherwise supporters will have to wait until January to try again.


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