Southern California environment news and trends

Song of the Week: Beastie Boys' 'Negotiation Limerick File,' for Farmers Field mediation


This is AEG's rendering of what the Los Angeles Convention Center could look like after Farmers Field is built.

Twenty groups that offered comments on the draft environmental impact report for Farmers Field have used their prerogative under SB 292 to request mediation with the city and with AEG about it. That mediation's already underway. Kind of interesting: this isn't something that CEQA normally provides. This is part of the hurry-up of SB 292. "Within five days following the close of the public comment period, a commenter on the draft environmental impact report may submit to the lead agency a written request for nonbinding mediation," the law says. Starting now, and ending "no later than 35 days after the close of the public comment period." 

Mediation for Farmers Field is meant to head off litigation. "A commenter who agrees to a measure pursuant to this subparagraph shall not raise the issue addressed by that measure as a basis for a petition for writ of mandate challenging the lead agency's decision to certify the environmental impact report or to grant one or more initial project approvals," says the law. 


What Farmers Field's environmental goals really are, and what they really mean

Clinton Global Initiative Addresses Issues Of Worldwide Concern

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images for AEG

American businessman Steve Bing, President and CEO of AEG Timothy J. Leiweke, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Casey Wasserman pose for a photograph during the seventh Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

As of 4 o’clock, all the comments have been submitted concerning the draft environmental impact report for Farmers Field. It’ll be interesting to see how the city planning office responds to some of the criticisms leveled publicly, at meetings in recent weeks, and via letter.

Among them are complaints that AEG hasn’t explained how it will achieve the goals created by SB 292 for fewer car trips and carbon neutrality at the proposed downtown football stadium.

For what they’re worth, AEG made another set of promises too. While it was drumming up public and political support for Farmers Field plans, AEG announced it entered into a set of commitments with the Clinton Global Initiative. What does that mean? According to the Initiative itself:

Commitments help CGI members translate practical goals into meaningful and measurable results. CGI works with each member to develop an achievable plan, and members report back on the progress they make over time.

Since CGI was founded in 2005, our members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.


A tale of two bills: AEG's fast-tracker & the bigger picture

Two pieces of legislation now on Governor Jerry Brown's desk would streamline (or "fast track" if you prefer that) the state's legendary environmental review process called CEQA. To me, they seem pretty different. Since they're complicated, I'm breaking them down. 

SB 292 would apply only to the Farmers Field/AEG stadium project proposed for downtown Los Angeles. AB 900 would apply to what it terms "leadership projects" that meet certain criteria - either put forward by agencies or endorsed by the governor. (I've got a lot of open questions about that one.) 

It's worth pointing out how the AEG stadium bill differs from AB 900, and what all that means for Governor J.B.


1. It should make a Farmers Field where car traffic is at least 10 percent less than any other NFL stadium. The law places specific reporting and monitoring requirements for counting car trips ("trip ratio") on AEG, not just for a year, but for the first five years, and if it's not working by then, the city has the right to make AEG do stuff differently. For its part, the city is supposed to re-visit the question of how to come in with fewer car trips than any other stadium, and it has authority over the project for its entire life. 


Questions about CEQA fast-track legislation now on Governor Brown's desk

Please forgive me for completely missing the news that AB 900, the environmental review fast-tracking bill about which I wrote last week, is further along. Apparently the hollowed-out bill that was filled in with CEQA reforms for Senate votes a week ago has also passed the Assembly - it had to have been after 3:30 AM Saturday, since the Senate still had the bill then, but since I wasn't on a cot in a Capitol hallway, I don't know exactly. 

Eric Richardson of Blogdowntown and I had a lively discussion about this last week. So I decided to read the text of both the AEG stadium speeder-legislation (SB 292) and the big-scale assembly bill that would do the same thing for a whole cohort of anonymous future projects.

In this post I'll lay out some major provisions of AB 900 and raise questions about their impact on CEQA, the state's long-maligned, elephantine, planning law that keeps the legal industry in business


A contagion of enviro review fast tracking hits Sacramento after AEG Stadium deal [UPDATE]

12:04 pm: The bill passed out of the State Senate's environment committee, 5-1, and is going straight to the floor, according to NRDC's David Petit. KPCC's Julie Small says they're debating the bill on the floor now. AEG refused to comment to Small about the bill. This is happening fast, if you can't tell.

12:14 pm:Why is Darrell Steinberg, the author of the bill mandating smart growth be included in CEQA planning, backing a fast-tracking of CEQA that lacks enforcement provisions?

12:25 pm: Just found LA Times coverage here, Curbed coverage of LAT coverage here.

2:49 pm: AB900 passed floor, now to Assembly.


Is AEG spawning a CONTAGION of precedent-setting changes to the state's environmental review process? 
A bill that back in April and May concerned schools now would speed review of CEQA appeals for major projects around the state.