Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian cosponsored a resolution that… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Los Angeles' top policy advocate has recommended that the City Council oppose any attempts to bend state environmental rules for a football stadium proposed next to the Convention Center downtown.
Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry F. Miller, who has been negotiating the stadium details with developer Anschutz Entertainment Group, is backing a pending council resolution that calls for the city to fight "any legislation that would subvert or accelerate the [California Environmental Quality Act] process."
AEG has not specifically said it wants such an exemption. But earlier this year, executives spoke with state legislators about finding ways to prevent frivolous lawsuits from delaying stadium construction.
In 2009, lawmakers gave such immunity to a competing stadium developer in the City of Industry by exempting them from some of the state environmental law.
The council resolution has yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing, the legislative analyst's office said Wednesday. The resolution — introduced in February by Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Bill Rosendahl — would instruct city lobbyists to battle efforts to relax environmental safeguards in connection with the 64,000-seat stadium project.
The backer of the Industry proposal, developer Ed Roski Jr.'s Majestic Realty, won some Environmental Quality Act concessions through one-time legislation that in essence removed the ability of critics to challenge its proposal in court. It basically allowed Majestic to use the environmental impact report it had conducted for an earlier proposal for the stadium site and required the same mitigation measures. The legislation was highly controversial, in part because opponents feared it would set a precedent.
An AEG spokesman has said the company already has begun its own extensive environmental review, which he estimated would take at least a year. The company did not comment Wednesday on Miller's report.
In a document dated June 17, Miller cited the resolution's statement that California's environmental review process "provides vital, holistic analysis of development proposals — analysis that the City Council needs in order to have a full and complete debate about the stadium proposal."
The National Football League so far has not agreed to provide a team for either stadium location. Nonetheless, Los Angeles officials are working with AEG to reach a deal on its project, which also calls for tearing down and rebuilding part of the aging Convention Center. City officials want guarantees that the stadium would be paid for only with private funds and that taxpayers would not be on the hook if it failed.
Councilwoman Jan Perry, who chairs the ad hoc committee trying to work out an acceptable agreement with AEG, said Wednesday she understands concerns AEG might have about people filing "frivolous" suits to extract money from deep-pocketed developers who sometimes pay up just to keep a big project on track.
Nonetheless, Perry said she would support Miller's recommendation.
"There is no need to eliminate the CEQA process," Perry said.
Council President Eric Garcetti said through an aide he believes the project should not be exempted from the Environmental Quality Act.
Krekorian, who as a state assemblyman opposed concessions for the Majestic project, responded positively to the analyst's recommendation.
"I didn't support special exemptions then and I don't support special exemptions now," Krekorian said, adding that the city needs the leeway to fully evaluate such a large project's potential effects, including those on traffic, air quality, the economy, jobs and the city treasury.