AEG's proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles was the kind of job-creating development that needed to move forward, even if that meant passing special-case legislation to help it along. The legislation, which expedites the legal process for lawsuits challenging the project on environmental grounds, won our support because quick action was required and because it didn't let AEG off the hook for adhering to the California Environmental Quality Act, including an environmental impact report. But it was far from ideal. It allowed lawsuits challenging the project to move straight to the appellate courts, bypassing the trial courts to speed up the years-long legal process.
CEQA has been a mainstay in protecting the state's environment, but at times it has been used to hold up worthy projects in the courts for years, effectively killing them. The litigants aren't just environmentalists; they also include businesses trying to stifle would-be competitors.
That's why it's important to find reasonable solutions not just for the proposed stadium but for other good projects that might be choked off by an unreasonable or unduly long court battle. Two new laws have been passed to this effect, one of which holds promise. The other, though, unfortunately continues with the AEG model of sending CEQA lawsuits against certain major projects — those costing $100 million or more — straight to the appellate courts if the governor approves.