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How LA's Two NFL Stadium Proposals Managed to Skirt California's Onerous Environmental Review Process

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Why bother with a lengthy environmental review process for your NFL stadium plan when a ballot initiative is way quicker and much, much cheaper? Rather than shell out something like the $27 million that developer AEG spent back in 2012 on the massive environmental report for its ill-fated Farmers Field stadium, LA's two leading NFL stadium plans—one in Inglewood from St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and one in Carson from the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders—both came up with an alternative: they took the plans to voters, which in turn opened the door for the city councils involved to approve the stadiums without the environmental process.

According to campaign finance reports, as reported by the LA Times, Kroenke almost entirely funded the Citizens for Revitalizing the City of Champions, which gathered enough signatures earlier this year to qualify his stadium proposal for an upcoming election. This campaign cost only $1.7 million. Then, instead of placing the initiative on the ballot, the Inglewood City Council was allowed to simply pass the proposal on its own shortly thereafter.

The Chargers and Raiders then pursued a similar course, but their Carson2Gether spent only $534,000 for their signature-gathering campaign (including "$1,600 to hire the Los Angeles Fife and Drum Corps, which led a parade when 15,000 signatures were delivered to Carson City Hall in March"). And the Carson City Council moved even quicker, adopting their stadium proposal in only three weeks.

California law allows projects that qualify for a ballot initiative to skip the environmental review process entirely; that process is normally mandated by the state's controversial California Environmental Quality Act, which is supposed to give power to little guys in the face of big developers, but is often abused via NIMBY lawsuits. It's still possible that these proposals could face the voters in an upcoming election, but neither city council seems interested in that. Leonard Hyman
· Inglewood NFL Stadium Reveals Plans For Enormous, See-Through, Billboard Roof [Curbed LA]
· Carson Stadium's Redesign Includes 120-Foot-Tall Tower That Shoots Lightning [Curbed LA]
· A Field Guide to CEQA and Its Controversies [Curbed LA]