AP News

Activists challenge law over proposed LA stadium

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Activists opposed to a $1.5 billion downtown football stadium sued the state of California on Thursday over a law that attempts to fast-track construction of Farmers Field.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, contends that bill SB292 violates the state Constitution and should be struck down. It also seeks a court order barring its enforcement.

The Senate bill that took effect in January "granted special treatment to a special interest," argues the suit filed by the Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition, and several city and county residents.

The bill imposes a 175-day deadline for filing lawsuits challenging environmental impact reports for the stadium. It also requires that the lawsuits be filed with the California 2nd District Court of Appeal, bypassing the county Superior Court.

Opponents say the 72,000-seat Farmers Field would create massive traffic jams on game days and cause a number of other environmental impacts for the mostly low-income people living near it.

"This stadium will affect parking, housing prices, traffic, air quality and so much more," plaintiff Pedro Areas, who lives in South Los Angeles about a mile from the proposed stadium, said in a statement.

Anschutz Entertainment Group is hoping that building a stadium next to the Convention Center will attract an NFL team to Los Angeles. The developer won support from Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who estimated it would create 12,000 construction jobs and 11,000 permanent jobs.

SB292 and a companion law, AB900, aim to expedite resolution of legal challenges to the project and avoid long, costly court battles that could hold up construction.

In a statement Thursday, AEG said it is confident that the laws will survive legal attack.

"These measures are common sense legislation intended to put people back to work during these difficult times and fully protect and expand the public's participation in the environmental process," the statement said. "Suspect attacks on the legality of these laws demonstrate the very need for the protections they afford against those seeking to abuse the legal system to thwart or delay projects creating beneficial economic development."

AEG is hoping to obtain stadium approval and secure an NFL team to play there by 2017.

A massive environmental impact report on the project was released earlier this year. The city Planning Commission will review the report next month.

AEG has pledged to spend about $35 million to reduce traffic problems.

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