California senate to okay fast-track for all stadiums, arenas?

It’s D-Day for AEG’s Los Angeles stadium fast-track bill, which passed the state senate on Wednesday and now goes to the state assembly. With the legislative session ending today, either the bill will get swiftly approved — just nine days after it was written, though that still wouldn’t be a record — or AEG will need to decide whether to move ahead with its project without the promise that any lawsuits will be swiftly resolved.

The state senate, however, appears to be focused on a new bill, introduced just yesterday, that would allow the governor to fast-track any development project over $100 million, for the next three years. Reports the L.A. Times:

Senators acknowledged that the broader measure would probably have to pass if they are to approve the AEG stadium bill. Its principal co-author, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said it was justified by the state’s 12% unemployment rate.

“This is a recession,” Steinberg said. “People are hurting, and we have to use every tool in our disposal to help people get back to work, and do so in a way that does not undermine our very important environmental laws.”

The bill, AB 900, would allow a wide variety of projects — residential, commercial, sports, cultural, entertainment, renewable energy and recreational — to apply to the governor for expedited treatment. They would have to be located on an under-utilized property in a developed area.

This would make Steinberg, for one, happy because it could potentially be applied to the Sacramento Kings arena; the senate leader is co-chair of Sacramento’s Think Big committee trying to get that built. Less happy, though, are the environmentalists who’d endorsed the AEG-specific bill: National Resources Defense Council attorney David Pettit had barely finished blogging about how the AEG bill was worthwhile because they’d added legally binding commitments to increase public transit use by fans when he was telling the Times that the broader bill was problematic because it could apply to so many projects:”There are a lot of projects that could get under the wire by 2015.”

According to the Times, though, senate leaders say it’s the broader bill or no bill at all. Looks like you can listen live here (and possibly watch live here) if you want to follow the play-by-play of today’s final senate session.

8 comments on “California senate to okay fast-track for all stadiums, arenas?

  1. While the reasons they’re doing this are complete bull, I can’t say I’m opposed to 900. California’s environmental laws have gotten out of hand, particularly the “environmental impact reports” required when you’re building in an already paved over wasteland like LA.

  2. I don’t think this bill actually affects the CEQA requirements — it just expedites any lawsuits. I haven’t seen a good analysis yet of the broader pros/cons of that approach.

  3. From what I have read on it the biggest change is that it would severely limit who could file the lawsuits since they would start at the appeals court level. Basically if you don’t have big bucks, you can’t file suit which would keep out virtually all the frivolous suits that are must normally be defended and almost always defeated.

  4. “There are a lot of projects that could get under the wire by 2015.”

    Wouldn’t that be awful. People might be allowed to build things without the permission of the NRDC.

    This is a much better approach than simply exempting a particular stadium boondoggle; it might actually benefit some projects that make economic sense.

  5. This isn’t really the answer. The answer is to find a way to punish those who file frivolous lawsuits. Maybe figure out a way to bill those who file frivolous lawsuits an amount equal to the harm they cause those they are suing.

    Leave the 275 day rule intact, but punish those who want to stop projects just for the sake of stopping them. The State Legislature is tackling the wrong problem.

    I don’t like the $100M rule, either. There are plenty of $1M and $10M projects that face the exact same issues. $1M is a boatload of money to someone like me. I’m not sure why smaller investors shouldn’t get the same consideration.

  6. Hey it’s California. You take what you can get. I can’t see our oh so brilliant legislature going for a similar cap on 10 million dollar projects. It’s a miracle they’re going pro business enough to do this for any projects. And if I’m not mistaken there is already a punishment in place for frivolous lawsuits, it hasn’t worked.