LAT: AEG Lobbying for Exemptions from Environmental Lawsuits

Image via ##'s Field##

While the rest of the local media was busy going ga-ga over the press conference announcing that, if constructed, the Downtown NFL Stadium would be named after Farmers Bank, Patrick McGreevey and Jessica Harrison at the Los Angeles Times revealed that the developer’s for the Downtown Stadium are lobbying for the same exemption from state environmental lawsuits that rival developer Ed Roski earned for his proposed Stadium in the City of Industry.

As top executives from Anschutz’s firm roamed the Capitol to lobby for their project this week and a who’s who of power brokers in sports, business, labor and politics announced their backing for it in Los Angeles, dozens of activist groups were mobilizing against the billionaire builder, pressing legislators not to exempt AEG from provisions of the state’s environmental quality act.

In 2009, billionaire developer Ed Roski convinced the legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger to exempt their stadium plan from any legal challenge even as the neighboring City of Walnut tried to use a lawsuit to force a more complete traffic study for his stadium.  Roski turned to the legislature and Governor who changed the law, just for Roski, so that his project’s environmental documents could not be challenged in court.

If AEG gets the same exemption that Roski did, and legislators are already lining up to do AEG’s bidding, it would be an even more egregious violation of the public trust than in the Roski situation.  Knowing ahead of time that the only people that would have to approve the environmental documents would be officials with the City of Los Angeles, there would be little incentive to insure that the review was top quality.  After all, Mayor Villaraigosa is already celebrating the stadium, and its unlikely that a review would get a serious review from the city if the review is completed during his term.

As the debate over whether or not to protect AEG from legal challenges to their environmental documents heats up, there will doubtless be a lot of discussion about what is “fair.”  If the Roski project was exempted from lawsuits, then it’s only “fair” that AEG be protected as well.  But the purpose of environmental laws isn’t about creating a checklist for rich people to check off before they do whatever they want to do, it’s about protecting communities, and people, from projects that would do more damage than good.

In other words, if the legislature decides to step in to legal issues again, then it should be judging whether or not an exemption is in the community’s best interest, not whether it’s “fair” to AEG.

  • “if the legislature decides to step in to legal issues again”

    hmm I thought the legislature’s job was to create laws… it or not our politicians are for sale. Need a law changed just open your pocketbook.

  • Daylight Saves What?

    If I’m not mistaken, Farmers is an insurance company, not a bank

  • After getting ripped off by the Raiders, why would we want to let this soviet-style sports collective to pick our pockets again?

  • LAofAnaheim

    What’s fair is fair. Industry received an examption, AEG deserves the same.

  • The environmental impacts of a stadium in Industry are different, and probably much less severe, than one in downtown L.A.

  • “The environmental impacts of a stadium in Industry are different, and probably much less severe, than one in downtown L.A.”

    Yeah because DTLA is a hub of transportation with many bus lines and rail service whilst industry has a Metrolink station!

  • What is fair is fair. AEG got their exemption, and I want mine for my uncompacted used tire, broken glass, and sand retaining wall overlooking a pre-school.

  • LAofAnaheim

    @6…Yes, a Metrolink station over a mile away from the Industry stadium location. Whereas the downtown stadium has 2 stations within 1/3rd mile with 4 Metro rail lines with 5 minute frequencies (Red, Purple, Blue and Expo).

  • Eric B

    Although neither should’ve gotten an exemption, the situations are markedly different. Industry did an EIR under the assumption they would have to defend it, then got immunity after the fact. AEG is asking for immunity before they undergo the EIR, meaning the document will be half-baked from the start.

    Industry was bad; AEG would be even worse. CEQA is the biggest loser in all this.

    Time for CEQA reform?

  • calwatch

    Put CEQA in the state constitution. That way no legislature can overturn it without voter approval.

  • la rider

    F**K environmental studies. They are B***S**T. Football stadium in the middle of downtown LA is great for the city, period. So what if people in cars are affected by the extra traffic on Sundays.

  • ds

    It will never get built unless they get an environmental exemption. Downtown is full of rich white NIMBYs now.

    AEG just needs to cut a deal with the unions to permit organization of the stadium jobs, like Roski did, and I’m sure the legislature will give the exemption.

  • @ds “Downtown is full of rich white NIMBYs now.”

    We have seen more development downtown than any other part of the city….How are the NIMBYs stopping this?

    Do you know anyone that live in downtown or just have a prejudice for your own opinions?

  • AEG Doesn’t Need a Waiver

    The stadium doesn’t need a state law shielding it from liability to get built. No other existing stadium in California needed it. Even Ed Roski’s proposed white elephant in Industry only got it *AFTER* the studies were completed. With the favorable economics of a downtown venue, the key thing is to get the transportation element done right.

  • I would much rather see the stadium built downtown than in Industry.

    At least downtown you have the Blue Line, the Red Line and you will soon have Expo and the Regional Connector. The Pico station just needs a few improvements.

    If L.A. fumbles the ball, Ed Roski is waiting….


Op/Ed: Touchdown Pass or Lost Yardage—What Will It Be AEG?

As places celebrating athletic discipline and active lives, professional sports stadiums should energize physical activity and empower health.  Unfortunately, the sports-entertainment giant Anshutz Entertainment Group’s (AEG)proposal for a football stadium and new Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles will hurt surrounding communities.  The proposed stadium will permanently change the landscape–and harm the health–of downtown Los […]

Today’s Headlines

It’s just a name change… AEG Wants Exemption from Environmental Studies for Downtown Stadium (Curbed) Will Expo Really Be Running by Next Summer? (Neon Tommy) Review of the Metro Board Meeting…Nobody Arrested (The Source) Businesses Oppose Closing Metrolink Crossing on City, Glendale Border (LA_Now) Goodbye "Pasadena Freeway" Hello "Arroyo Seco Parkway" (LAT) Mother Jones: "Memo […]