Judge okays suit against Clippers arena land sale for not considering affordable housing first

I haven’t paid much attention to the citizen lawsuit against the proposed new Los Angeles Clippers in Inglewood since it was filed last summer and Mayor James Butts abruptly ended a city council meeting and ran away when someone tried to serve him lawsuit papers, but now it might be worth perking up our ears: A Los Angeles County judge has ruled that the lawsuit can proceed, accepting the argument of plaintiffs that a state law may have required the city to first try to find an affordable housing developer for the arena land:

“Today’s ruling is a step forward for our neighbors in Inglewood who are simply asking the city of Inglewood to follow California’s affordable housing laws,” says D’artagnan Scorza of Uplift Inglewood. “It simply does not make any sense to prioritize an NBA arena over the needs of Inglewood residents. Public land should be used for the public good.”

Some background: The California Surplus Land Act of 2005 requires local governments that want to sell public land to first offer it up to either low- and moderate-income housing developers or to local parks departments, then engage in “good faith” negotiations to try to get a fair price before moving on to other buyers. Uplift Inglewood is a coalition of “residents, businesses, faith groups, and community organizations all working together to ensure the vision of Inglewood’s future includes and benefits everyone.” Inglewood is a city with lots of poor people and little affordable housing and no rent controls. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is a multibillionaire who doesn’t like his team’s current arena because he doesn’t own it.

As for the legal details, we’ll all find out more when the suit goes to trial in September. Ballmer’s going to have to content himself for a while with his team being called “pesky” for scaring the Golden State Warriors slightly in the playoffs.


8 comments on “Judge okays suit against Clippers arena land sale for not considering affordable housing first

  1. The FAA has already ruled that any type of housing, affordable or not, can’t be constructed/developed in territory that lands within the LAX flight zone. That is part of the reason why Ballmer has chosen this section.

    http://clippersarenainglewood.com/faq/

    • Need some more info here, because that claim makes absolutely zero sense. There is already housing that’s going to be constructed at the Inglewood stadium site, which is literally across the street from the Clippers’ proposed site.

  2. Neil, do you a link to the actual article? Everything you linked is either old articles or definitions. No recent articles.

  3. “then engage in “good faith” negotiations to try to get a fair price before moving on to other buyers”
    _________________

    Has this law come into play on any stadium development yet? Given what land prices are in California if the land was being sold on the open market it’d be extremely difficult for any low income housing developer or public parks group to afford the land. But if the plan was to hand the land over to the team owner at a huge reduction this law could really get in the way. I’d guess the net effect would be the city would have to sell the land to the team at market value but then they’d be free to make up for that with extra giveaways on taxes, more money towards stadium construction, etc. I’m not sure really how the courts could control those after-the-sale items like that since they’d in theory be separate acts even if it really was part of the whole larger project.

    • I’m now wondering how it will impact the proposed Oakland Coliseum development. That would be housing, in part, but I believe it’s all market rate.

      • There’s no chance the Oakland Coliseum site gets redeveloped without a significant affordable housing component. Just none.

        • So as long as there’s some affordable housing, that’s enough to meet the CSLA conditions? That’s not what the law appears to say — it indicates that local governments have to specifically offer land up to affordable housing developers before using it for anything else — but if that is what it means, you’d think Ballmer would just announce he’s putting up a one-person affordable shed in the arena garage and make the lawsuit go away.