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Inglewood Clippers arena will be fast-tracked

The governor signed off on fast-tracking environmental plans—but some residents say that plan doesn’t go far enough

The Clippers will likely get a leg up in their bid to build an 18,000-seat an NBA arena on 22 acres of city-owned land off Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue.
Courtesy of LA Clippers

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed off on a plan to reduce carbon emissions generated by the proposed Clippers arena in Inglewood. But some residents and environmental experts say the Clippers aren’t doing enough, with one calling the plan “pretty much a joke.”

The Clippers will still have to undergo a state-mandated environmental review. But, with the governor’s signature, environmental lawsuits filed over the arena plans, as well as any lawsuits filed over the city’s potential approval of the plans, would have to be resolved in 270 days.

That gives the Clippers a leg up in their bid to build an 18,000-seat NBA arena on 22 acres of city-owned land off Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, less than a half mile from the NFL stadium that will open in the summer.

“Receiving the state’s certification is just more evidence that this project will be–by far– one of the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient sports venues in the country,” project developer Chris Meany said in a statement. “Whether you are a basketball fan or not, the new arena will be something that everyone in Inglewood can be proud of and enjoy.”

The California Air Resources Board had already approved the mitigation plan, which calls for installing 1,350 electric vehicle charging stations, planting 1,000 trees, and purchasing carbon offset credits.

Among other measures designed to encourage game-goers not to drive, the Clippers are also promising to provide direct shuttles from the downtown Inglewood stop on the future Crenshaw Line and the Green Line’s Hawthorne Station.

That plan has come under scrutiny from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Senior attorney David Pettit has called the the traffic management component “pretty much a joke.”

Other provisions include: providing 93 bike parking spaces, offering parking discounts to drivers who carpool, and ticket discounts to fans with TAP cards.

“How many people will want to get out of a game at 10 or 10:30 p.m. and get a shuttle to get on a train? That doesn’t seem very likely to me,” Pettit said. “People will probably just get in their cars that they park near the stadium and take off—and the people of Inglewood will have to breathe the exhaust.”

It’s not just the NRDC. In a letter to the state, Public Counsel said the traffic plan “does not contain any actual commitments to invest in traffic reduction.”

Inglewood resident Erika Pineda told the state: “Even if every car is an electric car—and they won’t be!—that would still create a nightmare of traffic for us.” And Inglewood resident Oscar Macedo said: “The impact of climate change is very damaging, and so is the pollution it will bring to our community, but this application does not take it very seriously.”

If the Clippers wanted to encourage more environmentally-friendly options, the owners would do more than provide charging stations; they would provide incentives for local residents to buy or lease electric cars and they would invest in additional or more robust bus lines, Petit said.

But the fundamental problem, he says, is that Clippers want to build in an area that he calls a “transit desert.” When the Crenshaw Line opens next year, it will bring three stations to Inglewood—but the nearest will be 1.8 miles away.

The Clippers expect the privately-financed arena to open in 2024, when the team’s lease at the Staples Center in Downtown LA expires.