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Clippers arena, Olympics projects would skirt environmental laws under state bill

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But Olympic bid leaders don’t want the help

Rendering of train station
The bill would exempt a transit project connecting a future Inglewood light rail stop with the basketball arena and other venues in the area.
Courtesy Metro

With plans moving forward for a new LA Clippers arena in Inglewood, state legislators are considering a bill that could speed up the stadium’s arrival—as well as transit projects associated with the 2028 Olympics.

But organizers of LA’s Olympic bid have been reluctant to accept the help.

In a letter to State Senator Steven Bradford, who proposed the bill, LA 2028 CEO Gene Sykes maintains that current plans for the games don’t require any new transit infrastructure. He also requests that Bradford remove any reference to the Olympic games from the proposed legislation.

If approved as is, the bill would completely exempt transportation projects “necessary to enhance the accessibility of Olympic games” and a transit service connecting a future stop on the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line to the Forum, Inglewood’s under-construction NFL stadium, and the new Clippers arena.

It would also streamline the arena’s approval under the California Environmental Quality Act, making the project less susceptible to legal challenges and strengthening the city of Inglewood’s ability to seize properties around the project site through eminent domain.

Bradford said in a statement that the legislation—which would significantly limit the ability of project opponents or concerned residents to challenge these developments—will make sure that these projects arrive in a timely manner.

“It is critical that this is done immediately for the timely implementation and success of forthcoming projects,” he said.

Should the Olympics component be dropped from the bill, it would primarily benefit the developers of the new Clippers arena. The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved a deal in July paving the way for the venue’s development.

But the sports facility faces some resistance from Inglewood locals. The Los Angeles Times reports that dozens of residents spoke out against the project prior to the council’s decision, arguing that the new arena could drive up real estate prices in the area, potentially displacing longtime residents.

If the project moves forward, the 18,000 to 20,000-seat arena could be constructed within five years—though the Clippers might not move in until a couple years after that. The team currently plays its home games at Staples Center and is under a lease agreement to remain there until 2024.