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Suit says special law for NFL stadium project is unconstitutional

A group of environmental and community activists wants to void a California law that fast-tracks some legal challenges to the stadium project.

August 31, 2012|By Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times
  • AEG's proposed NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles in an artist's rendering.
AEG's proposed NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles in an artist's… (AEG )

In the first major legal challenge to a planned NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, a coalition of environmental activists and community advocates filed suit Thursday claiming that a state law intended to assist the project is unconstitutional.

Developer Anschutz Entertainment Group and supporters of the project — dubbed Farmers Field — had successfully lobbied for passage of the law, which fast-tracks legal challenges to the stadium's environmental impact report by imposing deadlines and requiring such lawsuits to begin at the Court of Appeal level.

But a group known as the Play Fair at Farmers Field coalition is arguing that the state Constitution protects its right to file challenges to the environmental review in county Superior Court. Its suit also says the review process established by the California Environmental Quality Act cannot be superseded by the newer law.

Coalition attorney Dan Stormer called the law an unfair attack on the environmental review process. The suit asks the court to void the law.

AEG spokesman Michael Roth said he had not read the lawsuit and could not comment on specifics. But he accused the coalition of trying to "undermine the state's legislative will" and said he was "highly confident in the legality" of the law crafted for the project.

The coalition wants more traffic- and air-pollution-control measures, as well as increased support from AEG for low-income housing in the area. Extended delays from legal challenges could hurt the city's chances of getting an NFL stadium, which is proposed for a site next to the AEG-operated Staples Center and the L.A. Live residential and entertainment complex.

Maria Elena Durazo, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, defended AEG's expedited environmental review process, noting that many jobs are at stake. The City Council is expected to vote on the environmental report for the stadium proposal in September.

frank.shyong@latimes.com

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