Environmental groups called on California lawmakers Tuesday to reject efforts they said were being made to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles without a full environmental review.
The organizations said in a message delivered to legislators' offices that there is no justifiable reason to grant Staples Center owner AEG an exemption from state environmental laws to build a football venue nearby.
The coalition of 44 groups included the Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club California and Natural Resources Defense Council.
Tina Andolina, a Planning and Conservation League director, said legislative staffers have told her of Assembly members being approached by an AEG lobbyist about exempting a stadium from the California Environmental Quality Act.
She said the lobbyist was said to be citing as a precedent last year's vote allowing work to begin on a separate stadium project about 15 miles to the east, in the city of Industry, despite a lawsuit over its environmental review.
"If this continues on this course, we will have dirtier air, we will have unhappier local communities," Andolina said. "The worst is we will have land-use decisions made by bureaucrats in Sacramento, not at the local community level."
Lobbyist Marc Aprea, who is listed in state records as representing AEG, referred questions to company spokesman Michael Roth.
Roth said he could not comment on any specific actions the company was taking to advance a stadium plan.
"The project is still in the early stages, and all alternatives are being researched and evaluated," he said. "Anything that we may be doing specifically about the project is all part of our research and evaluation."
Shannon Murphy, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John Perez, said the assemblyman has not been approached about an exemption for AEG, but that he and his staff were aware that one was being discussed.
"We have heard the same rumors as everybody else," she said, adding that the speaker had no position on whether an exemption should be granted. "We'll look at any proposals that are brought before us and take them on a case-by-case basis."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league was aware of a potential downtown stadium site but had no comment about an exemption.
The discussion comes nine months after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing the construction of the 75,000-seat stadium proposed by Majestic Realty Co. on an undeveloped hillside in Industry. The bill nullified a lawsuit filed by residents in the nearby city of Walnut over the project's environmental impact.
In their notice to lawmakers Tuesday, the environmental groups rejected any suggestion that October's legislation could be a precedent for a downtown stadium being exempted from environmental review.
The groups noted that the Industry project's environmental impact report had already been approved and that developers had committed to a series of mitigation measures.
John Semcken, the Majestic executive overseeing the Industry stadium project, declined to discuss AEG's plans.
"We remain focused on our stadium project to bring an NFL team back to Los Angeles," he said in an e-mail.
AEG, a subsidiary the Denver-based Anschutz Co., has released few details about its stadium plans, which it only began discussing publicly in recent weeks.
Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consultancy SportsCorp, said the company appears eager to speed through the approval process so it could be positioned to compete for a team with the Industry project.
"There will only be one new stadium for football in the Los Angeles region," Ganis said. "The location in Industry is being portrayed (by Majestic) as the best and only location. It may not be the best, but it is the only one right now."