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.