Farmers Field NFL Stadium Downtown Could Be Slowed By Serious Legal Challenge

Note correction after the jump. Also, AEG reacts and clarifies, below.

If you were a gamblin' man, and a good one at that, you'd probably put your money on Farmers Field getting built, or at least getting every approval it needs by the soft-spine L.A. City Council.

The owner of Staples Center and LA Live, Anschutz Entertainment Group, has steamrolled over City Hall, state lawmakers and pretty much the rest of us in a razzle-dazzle show of civic pride, futuristic renderings, green design and NFL salivation.

But AEG might just be facing the first serious test of its downtown football dreams:

A group called the Planning and Conservation League has filed a lawsuit that could derail the venue.

The League argues in the suit, according to Associated Press, that a California law sending environmental lawsuits against the stadium directly to appeals courts is unconstitutional.

The group says the state legislature has no right to meddle in the affairs of the courts: It's a violation of church and state, it argues.

The law was drafted to protect AEG from the kind of endless environmental litigation that can cost millions and stall projects for years. According to AP:

The bill by Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo seeks to speed up judicial review of environmental challenges on large-scale projects that cost at least $100 million. The bill was criticized last year for bypassing public review using a controversial legislative maneuver called "gut and amend."

[Correction]: Bill Mabie, state Sen. Alex Padilla's chief of staff, notes that it was Padilla's bill, SB 292, that will accelerate judicial review of any potential EIR challenges to Farmers Field.

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Interestingly, Majestic Realty's competing NFL stadium plans for the nearby City of Industry got similar protection from environmental lawsuits by the state legislature.

[Added on April 26]: Michael Roth, spokesman for AEG, said Majestic's stadium is getting full protection from EIR lawsuits, not just the accelerated path to appellate courts given to AEG's EIR challenges.

He adds:

The lawsuit filed on Monday is a response to AB900 and therefore does not address or challenge the development of the downtown Los Angeles stadium and Event Center or the associated (recently filed) draft Environmental Impact Report. The approval process of DEIR associated with the stadium is governed by SB292, a far more specific and narrowly defined process which guarantees that the project will be the most sustainable of its kind, having gone through the most thorough and comprehensive review process.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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