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: A few provisions get applause as governor quietly signs CEQA reform bill

Governor signed a bill that will streamline the CEQA process for a new Sacramento Kings arena, while also making several other changes to how CEQA works for infill developments statewide

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

There was no fanfare, no big press conference, not even a signing statement (though maybe this should have sufficed). In the end, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s final CEQA reform bill late on a Friday afternoon, a time-honored way to avoid media attention.

The governor left it to a spokesperson to explain his views on a bill that will streamline the CEQA process for a new Sacramento Kings arena, while also making several other changes to how CEQA works for infill developments statewide. “We were pleased to play a part in broadening the impacts of this bill,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor… (more)

Steinberg Has Blunt Words for CEQA Overhaul Backers

Steinberg Has Blunt Words for CEQA Overhaul Backers – back off on more this year.

By Ben Adler : capradio.org – excerpt

The measure at the center of the debate over modifying the California Environmental Quality Act has passed a key legislative committee. But the bill’s author is warning business groups calling for a broad overhaul to tone down their list of demands…
(audio track)

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s weighed the concerns of all sides in the CEQA debate – and decided he wants his bill to encourage urban infill development and discourage suburban sprawl.
But the business coalition supporting a more sweeping overhaul says Steinberg’s proposal wouldn’t do enough to spur the economy and reduce abusive lawsuits.  “Infill is one piece of that, if we agree on that approach.  But it’s a much bigger issue for California’s economy.  We’re talking about the state as a whole, and it goes far beyond infill,” says Rob Lapsley with the California Business Roundtable.
Still, Steinberg had some blunt words for the business groups: “If there is any expectation – and I know there is a big expectation – that my bill will include the lengthy and ever-changing list that the CEQA coalition seems to want, you’re gonna have to find another author, another year, another time, another way to do this,” he told the Assembly Local Government Committee Wednesday, which passed his bill by a 7-0 vote.
Labor and environmental groups are heavily lobbying against major changes to the law.  All sides say they want to continue working with Steinberg over the final month of this year’s legislative session… (move)

RELATED:
Steinberg still trying to get California environmental law deal

CEQA Roundup: Have negotiations really stalled?

Environmentalists have expressed concern about how these standards would be set, but have not yet publicly commented on Steinberg’s proposal. In their open letter last week, though, would-be reformers may have swept the ground out from under this approach, saying that it may be impractical to set these thresholds statewide.

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy – excerpt

The clock is officially ticking on the year-long effort to update the California Environmental Quality Act, with the Assembly returning to session this week amid rising concerns that negotiations between business, environmental, and labor groups have stalled…

The policy obstacles

Since he first introduced his legislation, Steinberg has insisted his aim is to streamline the CEQA process for infill development—part of his own years-long effort to curb urban sprawl and help the state meet its climate goals. At the heart of his approach has been a proposal to set new “thresholds” for environmental impacts like traffic and noise that have become major obstacles to infill projects.

Environmentalists have expressed concern about how these standards would be set, but have not yet publicly commented on Steinberg’s proposal. In their open letter last week, though, would-be reformers may have swept the ground out from under this approach, saying that it may be impractical to set these thresholds statewide.

With the foundation of Steinberg’s legislation apparently wobbling, business groups drew attention to what is not yet in the bill—calling for CEQA litigants to be required to reveal who they are (something the law doesn’t currently require) and demanding CEQA plaintiffs pay for the preparation of the public environmental documents that lead agencies must compile during lawsuits

Steinberg himself seems to have been surprised by the opposition on the part of some labor leaders, in particular, who have pushed back against his most basic goal: Updating the CEQA process for infill projects. While the Senate leader has tried from the start to write a bill that would drive more of this type of development across the state, sources say some labor leaders view the coming infill wave as the source of a steady stream of jobs—and they are wary of losing CEQA as a tool they can use to reach project labor agreements with developers…

At a time the governor is already trying to resolve a BART strike and escalating prison crisis, that may present a significant challenge… (more)

 

CEQA Roundup: Reform wins unanimously in Senate, what to watch for next

CEQA Roundup: Reform wins unanimously in Senate, what to watch for next

Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

After months of debate, the state Senate demonstrated overwhelming, bipartisan support for CEQA reform this week, passing—unanimously—Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s bill to streamline the CEQA process for infill development.

“[This bill] has received a lot of attention over the months,” Steinberg said from the Senate floor. “It seeks to find that elusive middle ground between those who believe the statute is irrevocably broken and must be fundamentally changed and those who say ‘Don’t touch it, there’s nothing wrong.'”

The lopsided 39-0 vote followed a parliamentary move by Senate Republicans, who pulled the bill from the consent file—where it would have been bundled together with other non-controversial legislation—so they could speak in praise of it.

“Both the President pro Tem and myself had competing bills a couple weeks ago,” said Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill. “But I rise in support of this bill…I think everybody would agree it’s not sweeping reform. But it’s the nature of this body that we incrementally move things forward, and this bill does that.”

Steinberg acknowledged that his much-discussed legislation, which now moves to the Assembly, still faces its challenges. “This is a work in progress as the combative stakeholders…seek to find common ground,” he said.

Still, there’s no doubt the vote dramatically improved the prospects of a complicated bill Steinberg himself has jokingly referred to as the How to Make No Friends Act. “We go into the Assembly with a lot of momentum,” Steinberg said.

Three things to look for next.. (more)

Steinberg Submits SB 731 to Reform CEQA

Steinberg Submits SB 731 to Reform CEQA

Feb 23rd, 2013 | Posted by : cahsrblog.com – excerpt

Yesterday State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg submitted SB 731, a bill to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. But that was overshadowed by the even more dramatic news that the primary backer of CEQA reform in the legislature, State Senator Michael Rubio, was resigning to take a lobbying job at Chevron.
First up, SB 731. The bill itself lacks detail and is a placeholder that describes the legislature’s intent. According to information released by Sen. Steinberg’s office, SB 731 would “modernize” CEQA through the following steps:

Key elements of SB 731 include:

* Updating CEQA to encourage and expand infill developments to reduce urban sprawl. This will help jump start the state’s housing market while promoting development consistent with state climate and planning laws like SB 375.

* Expedite the CEQA process, without compromising underlying public disclosure or environmental protection, for new investments in clean energy, bike lanes and transportation projects that help California meet its renewable energy, clean air, jobs, and transit goals.

* Modernize CEQA and its implementing regulations to set clear minimum thresholds for impacts like parking, traffic, noise and aesthetics to allow local agencies to standardize mitigation of those impacts. This change would preserve local control to set more stringent thresholds where communities choose to do so.

* Reduce duplication in Environmental Impact Report filings by expanding the use of “tiering.” This streamlines and limits further paperwork whereby local land use plans that have sufficient detail and recently completed EIRs can be used by people building projects within those plans.

* Where Environmental Impact Reports have been successfully challenged, allow the courts to send back for repair only the portion of the EIR that is found to be incomplete or lacking required specificity. This would eliminate the need for the entire EIR to be recirculated for public comment which can create additional delays.

* In those cases where project developers and agencies haven’t made any substantive change to a project and the public has already had time to comment on it, limit or prohibit so-called “late hits” and “document dumps” designed solely to delay projects late in the environmental review process.

* Appropriate $30 million in new funding to local governments to update their general, area, and specific plans so that they can be better used to “tier” and streamline environmental review of projects built pursuant to those plans.

Continue reading “Steinberg Submits SB 731 to Reform CEQA”

CEQA Week in Review: Senate leader Steinberg intros CEQA bill hours after Rubio resigns

CEQA Week in Review: Senate leader Steinberg intros CEQA bill hours after Rubio resigns

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

After a long day of having its thunder stolen by Sen. Rubio’s resignation, the Legislature’s long-awaited CEQA reform bill was finally introduced late this afternoon by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
We’ll take a closer look next week at the specifics of the bill, now called SB 731, which, as expected, includes intent language only and still lacks many specifics.
A few initial observations:
A broad coalition: Steinberg seems to have established détente between environmentalists, business, and labor groups that have been readying themselves for a political showdown over the last several months… (more)

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