OC Register: Why Just Exempt the Stadium?

2_2_09_stadium.jpgGovernor Schwarzenegger is ready for some football and sweetheart deals for billionaires.

Last weekend, in the wake of Governor Schwarzenegger’s signing of a law exempting the largest development project in Southern California since the L.A. Colliseum, the drumbeat began for more exemptions for projects that are going to be a lot less destructive to the environment.  The OC Register opines in a Saturday editorial:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week may have cemented his eventual
legacy as the man who brought professional football back to Los
Angeles. But a better characterization might be that he gave one
business a pass on having to follow laws that he otherwise vigorously
supports, and, depending on how the process unfolds, that he put
taxpayers in harm’s way…

…Gov. Schwarzenegger made the case for one business that we’ve been
making for all businesses – that environmental mandates have grown so
severe they unfairly restrict business growth and add significantly to
cost. If it works for Mr. Roski, why not for Mr. or Ms. Every
Entrepreneur?

As a supporter of strong environmental reviews, I can’t help but agree with their central point.  If you’re going to exempt a mega-project such as the stadium, enforcing the law on smaller developments seems unfair.  Strike another victory for our Environmental Governor!

The editorial goes on to mention that the claimed economic benefits of sports stadiums rarely meet the boasts of officials before the stadium is built.   However, as a supporter of gutting environmental regulations, the paper doesn’t mention that the only people that officially reviewed the environmental documents for the project were the City Council representing eight hundred people in the City of Industry.  They also didn’t mention that Industry’s Mayor and other elected leaders are going to reap a windfall in contracts when the stadium is completed.

  • poncho

    exempt a gigantic football stadium from environmental review and yet the painting bike lanes on SF streets were derailed by environmental review. wow

  • Reminds me that I need to find and read this book somewhere soon: City of Industry: Genealogies of Power in Southern California. Anyone taken a look at it? Or have opinions?

  • DJB

    This is raw power at work. Ed Roski Jr. and his Majestic Realty Co. showed what billions of dollars in personal wealth and the capital to attract tens of thousands of temporary construction jobs can do in a state that’s desperate for tax revenue and jobs.

    Of course, important questions won’t be considered by the public. What impact will the project have on pollution, traffic, noise etc.? That’s why there’s supposed to be a proper EIR. Well Arnold, you helped attract some construction jobs and killed some environmental analysis jobs.

    Decisions about land development should not be made in haste or desperation, since we will live with their consequences for many years to come. What’s that called? Oh yeah, planning. Don’t bet your money on the longevity of a society that refuses to plan.

  • DJB

    By the way, the environmental justice implications of this are huge. We’ve been complaining about the Gold Line Extension, but at least that had an EIR and was planned in a more or less open public process.

    When people clog the freeways to go to games, what impact will that have on the communities of color around or on the way to (e.g. East LA) the City of Industry? Their respiratory health has clearly been sacrificed for profit maximization and short-term job attraction. Would we be waiving CEQA if this stadium were proposed in an affluent white city, like Santa Monica? Nope.

    We won’t even know the impact precisely because it hasn’t been properly studied.

  • Everyone else is going to want to get exempted, though. There is talk among some circles that the HSRA may try to get a CEQA exemption as a last resort to preempt Atherton’s objection for elevated HSR tracks through their community, for example. Certainly, every semi-controversial project proponent will now tell some community “I have the year of Assemblymember Jones and if you don’t play ball I helped raise $1,000,000 to his campaign last year so he is going to write a bill for me.” The legislative pressure should have been placed on the court system to expedite the judicial review process because of its importance to the region, not on creating one-off exemptions that set bad precedent in the future.

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