LOS ANGELES — The proposed National Football League stadium in downtown Los Angeles took a leap forward Tuesday when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills to streamline environmental review for key construction projects.
Project boosters say building the 68,000-seat stadium — to be named Farmers Field — is expected to generate more than 10,000 jobs, bringing in an estimated $40 million a year to the city, county and state. Stadium developer AEG claims its design will be the most environmentally-friendly stadium in the nation.
“It’s time for big thinking and big projects that put Californians back to work,” Brown said in a statement. “Projects like Farmers Field can create thousands of jobs during a tough economic time, so it is imperative for the state to cut the red tape that could delay projects like this for years. These bills strike the right balance between protecting our environment and kick-starting jobs and investment in California.”
Brown signed AB 900 during a ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center at the proposed site of Farmers Field. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon, and Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, establishes an expedited regulatory review for undertakings designated by the governor as “leadership projects.”
Under AB 900, the projects are not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act review, but will receive a fast-track judicial review process.
Brown also signed SB 292, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, which designates the Farmers Field football stadium as a leadership project subject to a streamlined review that mirrors AB 900. It enacts a strict set of criteria for the stadium’s construction, requires the project to be carbon-neutral, mitigates impacts on traffic and air quality, and establishes a less onerous review process.
The only timeframe for review that was reduced by SB 292 affects the city of Los Angeles and the developer, who will now have five days, rather than 30, to reply to project challengers, who retain the time frames already laid out by CEQA.
“I’m pleased the governor has signed the legislation to move the Farmers Field and convention center project forward in a way consistent with California’s environmental laws,” said Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles.
The City Council approved a nonbinding agreement with AEG in August under which the developer will raze half of the city’s convention center and two parking garages to make way for the stadium. The city will use adjacent land it owns to construct a replacement hall for the convention center.
The combined cost of the convention center and stadium is estimated at $1.5 billion. AEG will pay a fair-market value to lease the city-owned land under the stadium. The money from the lease will be used to pay off $275 million of tax-exempt bonds to build the new convention center hall.