Voters Challenge NBA Kings’ ‘Hideously Designed’ Hoops Palace
by : courthousenews – excerpt
SACRAMENTO (CN) – A dozen citizens sued Sacramento in a vitriolic complaint fulminating against the city’s plan to scrap a basketball arena and build a new one for the NBA’s Kings.
Lead plaintiff Adriana Gianturco Saltonstall minces no words in the lawsuit: “Consummating a deal already brokered with the National Basketball Association, the
Sacramento City Council, led by former NBA player Mayor Kevin Johnson, voted on May 20, 2014 to leave behind a perfectly good sports arena in the middle of urban north Sacramento to demolish a major section of downtown Sacramento and build a hideously-designed sports arena there (the ‘Project’). The new arena capacity would differ from the abandoned ‘Sleep Train’ arena only in the larger number of luxury ‘box suites’ which are sold at a premium, generating more money for the NBA owners.”
A complaisant Legislature granted an exemption to state environmental law so the hideous arena could be built, the plaintiffs say: “In its quest to grease the project for the developers and citing an unsubstantiated threat that the Sacramento Kings corporate basketball team would be moved unless a new arena was built, the City of Sacramento and the wealthy Project promoters sought special-interest state legislation to modify the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to eliminate steps in the environmental review required for all other projects. Their wishes were fulfilled in Senate Bill 743, authored by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg.
“Despite the overwhelming opposition of Sacramento voters to using public funds, the Project commits the City’s general fund to underwrite the half billion dollar corporate sports palace.
“The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a downtown sports arena built for the National Basketball Association and the Sacramento Kings is defective under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and invalid under the California Constitution.
“The environmental impacts of the Project will be staggering, including long back-ups on already crowded local freeway on-and-off ramps; amplified noise belching from open hanger doors of the arena onto the historic downtown Sacramento streets; crowds up to 17,000 pouring out after games onto the darkened streets where Sacramento has been unable to prevent violence and murder from smaller events such as the Thursday Night Market and Second Saturday; choking parking in the residential neighborhoods· from cruising attendees seeking to avoid the higher parking rates and more meters planned to pay the extravagant expense of funding the bonds to build the facility.
“The Court’s writ and relief are urgently required to protect the physical environment from unnecessary environmental impacts and any further commitment to the Project before proper environmental analysis, mitigation and alternatives.”
They also challenge the legality of the Steinberg bill, which “strips environmental review of the public accountability that is the essence of CEQA, while imposing a 270-day timeframe for review.”
And, the plaintiffs say, Sacramento voters three times rejected public subsidy of a “corporate sports arena,” the last time in 2006 by an 80 percent margin.
They seek declaratory judgment that Steinberg’s bill is unconstitutional, writ of mandamus setting aside “any approvals, entitlements, findings or resolutions related to the Project” and forcing the city to comply with CEQA, an injunction and costs.
They are represented by Kelly T. Smith… (more)
Spring 2014 CEQA roundup – For California
By Miller Starr Regalia and Arthur F. Coon : lexology – excerpt
It’s that time of year again – business mixers, the Giants in first place in the NL west, the school year winding down, the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing, coastal whale migrations, California bursting with beautiful weather, flora and fauna … and, of course, the Spring CEQA roundup! So here goes the latest potpourri of CEQA developments, big and small:
- New Rules of Court address Environmental Leadership development project litigation. On April 25, 2014, and as required by 2013 legislation (SB 743) the Judicial Council adopted new Rules of Court governing and aimed at significantly expediting litigation of CEQA challenges to a select class of “green” mega’ projects, i.e., those certified by the Governor as “environmental leadership development projects.”…
- Supreme Court is asked to depublish Third District decision addressing urban decay mitigation for Woodland project… For a look at the court of appeal decision’s key issues and holdings, see my blog post of April 14, 2014, entitled “Some CEQA Reminders From The Third District: Urban Decay Requires Actual Mitigation When Identified By EIR As A Significant Project Impact – And Be Careful What You Find.”…
- Supreme Court “CEQA-in-reverse” case: briefing proceeds, amici weigh in. On April 28, 2014, the California Supreme Court granted the applications and filed briefs of numerous amici curiae (“friends of the court”) in the “CEQA-in-reverse” case, California Building Industry Association v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Cal. Supreme Court, Case No. S213478… To access my April 22, 2014 blog containing a link to that brief, see “Miller Starr Regalia Files Neutral “CEQA-in-Reverse” Case Amici Brief in California Supreme Court on Behalf of League of California Cities and Several Counties.”…
- Miller & Starr California Real Estate Law treatise to publish rewritten CEQA chapter…. (more)
Supervisors raise concerns on fees associated with UCSF Mission Bay development
by Jonah Owen Lamb : sfexaminer – excerpt
Some supervisors have aired concerns regarding fees associated with UC San Francisco’s purchase of two Salesforce lots across the street from the property (above) bought by the Warriors for their future arena in Mission Bay.
Salesforce.com’s decision to sell a parcel of land in Mission Bay to the Warriors has overshadowed another land deal across the street that seemed like a foregone conclusion: UC San Francisco’s agreement to purchase two Salesforce lots for a new development.
While receiving little opposition in the past, the UCSF proposal raised hackles at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing Wednesday, when Supervisors London Breed, Scott Wiener and Marc Farrell each expressed concerns for what they saw as a deal in which The City got the short end of the stick.
Under state law, universities are not obligated to pay property taxes. But in order to build in Mission Bay, a redevelopment area still governed by a master plan, UCSF has to pay in-lieu fees equivalent to property taxes — approximately $39 million — until the development area dissolves in 2043.
This matter needs further consideration and a thorough review of the facts before any decisions are made on further development of the area. In this instance these city officials agree with issues that have concerned a lot people some time. We need to slow down the process and do a proper job of investigating all the facts before agreeing to every hair-brained scheme the developers dream up. Some people call this a CEQA review, and a number of appeals have been filed in the courts regarding upholding the laws that require them.
Preexisting Management Plan Not A “Mitigation Measure” For Purposes Of CEQA Exemption
by James Rusk and Micah D. Bobo : mondaq – excerpt
A preexisting management plan intended to minimize environmental effects of recurring facility operations and events is not a “proposed mitigation measure” for purposes of determining whether an event qualifies for a CEQA categorical exemption, a state Court of Appeal has held. In Citizens for Environmental Responsibility v. California, the Court of Appeal upheld the exemption of a rodeo from CEQA review under the “normal operations of existing facilities for public gatherings” exemption established by the CEQA Guidelines. 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 283, 19 (Cal. App. 3d Dist. Mar. 26, 2014). The court rejected appellant’s arguments that the host fairgrounds’ Manure Management Plan (MMP), intended to prevent livestock fecal runoff entering a creek, was a proposed mitigation measure that the local agency improperly considered in assessing the effects of the rodeo. The court focused on the fact that the plan predated the proposal of the rodeo (albeit by only a few months) and would apply to all similar events at the fairground. The court also clarified the application of the “unusual circumstances” exception to categorical exemptions… (more)