Voters Challenge NBA Kings’ ‘Hideously Designed’ Hoops Palace

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)

Very sneaky, Walmart: How the mega-retailer rolled back California regulations

Labor, environmental, and political leaders cry foul as Calif. Democrats curtail landmark environmental law

By : salon – excerpt

Labor, environmental, and political leaders cry foul as Calif. Democrats curtail landmark environmental law

While Washington has been warring over the shutdown and the debt ceiling, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed bills expanding access to abortion and restricting local police collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement – bills that advocates hope will join past Golden State laws in proving to be national precedents. But if those bills have gotten little notice amid the showdown in Washington, another – signed by Brown the Friday afternoon before the shutdown – has gotten even less. It’s a “reform” that critics say waters down what’s been the country’s strongest statewide environmental law – and represents Walmart’s latest lobbying coup in a state where Democrats control every branch of government.
“It’s amazing to me how few people are willing to stand up to this corporation,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. “And mainly because they’re afraid.”… (more)

California SB 743: Legislative Changes To CEQA Ease Requirements For Urban Infill Projects

Legislative Changes To CEQA Ease Requirements For Urban Infill Projects

by Kenneth A. Kecskes : mondaq – excerpt

California lawmakers further streamlined the environmental review of infill residential, mixed-use and “employment center” projects under a new bill passed at the end of the legislative session in September.

By way of background, all development projects must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) prior to project approval. Under CEQA, state and local agencies must identify the significant environmental impacts of a proposed development project and avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible.

Senate Bill 743 was initially intended as a CEQA streamlining bill for a new sports and entertainment arena for the Sacramento Kings, an NBA team at risk of being lured away by another U.S. city. Legislative leaders and the business community have been asking for broader CEQA reform, because the environmental review process is time-consuming and fraught with litigation risk for developers and local governments. After last minute talks among the Governor and legislative leaders, the bill was amended to begin to ease requirements for certain classes of urban infill projects statewide.

The most significant changes: Inadequate parking and aesthetic impacts cannot be used to challenge a project under CEQA if the project is “on an infill site within a transit priority area.”… (more)

CEQA Roundup: After meeting with governor, Steinberg puts comprehensive CEQA bill on hold

CEQA Roundup: After meeting with governor, Steinberg puts comprehensive CEQA bill on hold

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy – excerpt

And just like that, after a year of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep his politically complicated CEQA reform package moving forward—a bill he not-so-jokingly referred to as the How to Make No Friends Act—Senate leader Darrell Steinberg last night decided to put aside his statewide CEQA legislation, SB 731, and turn his focus instead to his new bill, SB 743, to streamline the CEQA process for a Sacramento Kings arena.
The turn of events surprised many observers, especially because Steinberg seemed to be working hard this week to line up a coalition of infill builders, smart growth advocates, and labor groups he needed to move SB 731 forward over growing opposition from the business community.
A Wednesday evening meeting between Steinberg and the governor appears to have changed all that. Insiders say the governor pushed the Senate leader to pick one CEQA bill to get behind this legislative session, and Steinberg chose the Kings arena, putting his statewide legislation on hold until next year. Steinberg also reportedly promised to add several provisions requested by the governor.
According to amendments made public earlier this week, the Kings bill would already provide the arena with an expedited 270-day period for judicial review, give the city the power to use eminent domain to claim property for the arena project (even before the arena’s environmental impact report is complete), and create a new, super-compressed timeline for public review that will end disputes not in court, but in non-binding mediation … (more)

Looks like Steinberg has his priorities in order. He either cares more about the stadium or he just figured it was an easier, less complicated bill to salvage.

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