Last year in the final stretch of the legislative session, the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) tried to push for a legislative exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the proposed building of a football stadium in Los Angeles next to the Staples Center. Ultimately, when the gavel came down on August 31st, the CEQA exemption was not granted; or any other significant attempt to weaken California’s premier environmental law.
Now, less than a month since the legislature reconvened for this year’s session, AEG is picking up right where they left off. On Wednesday, AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke gave a public presentation to the L.A. City Council regarding his company’s plans for a downtown stadium. In this meeting, Leiweke brought up the issue of “protection” for the stadium deal, suggesting that AEG will likely seek legislation to protect the stadium from legal challenges brought forth which is often encountered during the environmental review process. Leiweke asked that his project receive the same “CEQA protections granted to the City of Industry,” a competing southern California town also aiming to lure a football team to move with promises of a new stadium.
In 2009, the legislature voted and passed a bill granting the 75,000 seat stadium project by Majestic Realty Co. a CEQA exemption. This has set a bad precedent for those hoping to preserve CEQA and protect it from attempts to weaken our communities’ only defense against detrimental projects. When asked to comment on the proposed Los Angeles stadium, a spokesperson from Majestic Realty responded, “AEG is requesting an environmental waiver for the single largest development ever proposed in the City of Los Angeles, that is unacceptable.” Well, that is something we can both agree on.