Reporting from Sacramento -- A state lawmaker has proposed the same special treatment for rail projects in California that the Legislature has given to developers of a proposed NFL stadium in Los Angeles and to some renewable-energy projects.
Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) introduced such a measure as the Legislature began its new year this week, saying it would "create thousands of desperately needed jobs and give commuters and residents environmentally sound transit options as alternatives to sitting in stopped traffic.''
He offered the bill, AB 1444, at the request of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The measure could assist a possible rail connection between the San Fernando Valley and L.A.'s Westside as well as the Green Line extension to Los Angeles International Airport, according to Michael Turner, government relations director for the transit agency.
Feuer's proposal is similar to legislation approved last year requiring environmental challenges to Farmers Field, a 72,000-seat stadium project planned for downtown L.A., to be resolved within 175 days. Other legislation signed last year provides the same streamlining for challenges to certain large renewable-energy projects.
Some environmentalists oppose further changes to the landmark California Environmental Quality Act.
"I don't think expedited environmental review should be extended any further" until the recent changes are tested, said David Pettit, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.