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L.A. County supervisors oppose environmental waivers on proposed NFL stadium

Legislative leaders indicate they may grant waivers because the project would create thousands of high-wage jobs. Supervisors argue that would let the developer bypass local concerns such as traffic.

September 09, 2009|Garrett Therolf

Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday ordered the county's lobbyists to oppose any legislation in Sacramento that would ease environmental and planning regulations in order to clear the way for a proposed 75,000-seat professional football stadium to be built in the city of Industry.

Gloria Molina asked her fellow supervisors to take that stand after recent reports indicated that backers of the stadium were aggressively lobbying state legislators. The Times reported last week that aides to top lawmakers appeared receptive to issuing California Environmental Quality Act waivers for the stadium, in light of the tough economy. Such legislation would have to pass by Friday, county officials said.

"While there are many reasons to support the development of a new NFL football stadium in Los Angeles County, there are just as many reasons to ensure that the project complies with the same environmental regulations that govern virtually all projects in California," Molina wrote. "Hospitals, police stations, freeways and all sorts of valuable projects manage to be built without the necessity of CEQA exemptions."

Molina's policy director, Gerry Hertzberg, said that if Sacramento waived the rules, it would probably mean more games per year and less effort from the developer to alleviate traffic congestion created by such a large venue.

"It would have a horrible impact," Hertzberg said.

State lawmakers last week said they would consider waivers for the project after meeting with Ed Roski, the billionaire real estate developer backing the stadium. Roski met Thursday with Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles). Maria Elena Durazo, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, also attended.

After the meeting, Alicia Trost, a spokeswoman for Steinberg, said he was considering Roski's proposal.

"The project may be an important opportunity to create thousands of high-wage jobs," Trost said.

Shannon Murphy, a spokeswoman for Bass, said: "If there's a way to maximize jobs with minimal impact on the environment, this speaker's going to look at it."

The proposal also would protect the stadium project from lawsuits, such as one filed by the adjacent city of Walnut in an attempt to block it. Roski's lobbying worried Walnut officials.

"If the California Legislature gets involved, it certainly takes away local control," Walnut City Manager Rob Wishner said last week. --

Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.

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