Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition Settles Lawsuit Challenging Proposed Downtown Stadium

Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition and AEG have agreed to terms to settle a lawsuit filed by the Coalition and individual LA CAN members and supporters.  LA CAN, Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA and Comunidad Presente, as the lead members of Play Fair, secured commitments on a wide range of community health benefits and measures, including funding for affordable housing, air quality improvement projects, improvements serving bus riders, additional parks and open space, neighborhood improvement plans, and a community team to promote health and protect tenant rights in the surrounding area.

Wesley Walker, a member of the Play Fair at Farmers Field Resident Panel: “We got involved in this issue because of the important community health issues like housing, public safety and access to jobs.  The settlement agreement includes many measures to meet the community’s goals in these areas.”

The settlement includes many community health programs and public participation processes that were recommended by impacted residents during the public approval process over the past months, but went largely ignored by the City.  Among other things, the agreement between AEG and Play Fair includes:

  • A $15 million Housing Trust Fund to preserve and create extremely low-income housing in Pico-Union, South L.A. and Downtown Los Angeles.
  • $1.9 million for air quality and bus rider improvements, to be identified by the communities
  • $300,000 for a team of a housing organizer and a promotora focused on tenant rights and improving housing conditions for at least three years of work focused on a two-mile radius of the stadium
  • Supplements to the neighborhood park commitment, including additional funds and community planning and design processes
  • Neighborhood improvement plans for South LA, Downtown and Pico Union, with funding for improvements identified through community processes
  • The establishment of a two-year pilot project regarding transit and  transportation plans for stadium attendees
  • Requirement that the City’s living wage will be the minimum for all on-site jobs
  • Establishing that 40% of all local hires in permanent jobs will be prioritized for “disadvantaged” workers
  • Establishing access for very small street vendors to the plaza and public spaces on event days
  • Numerous community input and notification processes for public safety impacts, construction impacts, and other concerns

Judge Denies AEG’s Motion to Intervene in Coalition’s Lawsuit Challenging State Law Granting Special Privileges for Farmers Field Project

Media Advisory
For Immediate Release

Contacts:
Barbara Schultz, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (213) 640-3823
Dan Stormer, Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson & Renick, LLC (626) 585-9600
Robert D. Newman, Attorney at Law (213) 487-4727
Becky Dennison, Los Angeles Community Action Network, (213) 840-4664
Martha Dina Argüello, Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA, (310) 261-0073

Judge Denies AEG’s Motion to Intervene in Coalition’s Lawsuit Challenging State Law Granting Special Privileges for Farmers Field Project

 What: Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition announces Judge Joanne O’Donnell’s decision this morning to deny a motion by Anschutz Entertainment Group to intervene in the coalition’s constitutional challenge to California Senate Bill 292, which granted special privileges for the Farmers Field and Convention Center modification project.

When: Tuesday, October 16th, Courtroom 37

On Tuesday morning, Judge O’Donnell denied a motion by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to intervene in the Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition’s constitutional challenge to California State Senate Bill 292 (SB292). Passed in 2011, SB 292 violates two sections of the California constitution – the section giving courts original jurisdiction, and that which prohibits special legislation where a general law is applicable. Judge O’Donnell based her decision on the California Attorney General’s ability to adequately defend the California Constitution.

The lawsuit, which was filed late August, followed the opposition of the organizations in Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition to SB 292, viewing it as an unnecessary and unfair attack on the community protections provided by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and creating a special loophole for a large developer at the expense of community health. The Coalition continues to be very concerned about the proposed project’s adverse effects on the health and well-being of residents in Pico Union, Downtown Los Angeles, and South Los Angeles. The lawsuit was filed against the State of California who bears the responsibility for passing SB 292 and for ensuring equitable, constitutional policy-making.

The attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Hadsell Stormer Richardson & Renick LLP, and Robert D. Newman, Attorney-at-Law.

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Play Fair Farmers Field on KPFK’s Uprising Radio: “Despite Community Opposition, LA City Council Unanimously Approves Downtown NFL Stadium Project”

Play Fair at Farmers Field was featured on KPFK’s Uprising Radio this morning. Click HERE to listen to the interview. More info HERE.

In the interview, Play Fair at Farmers Field representatives announce their plans to file a preliminary injunction this week as part of the coalition’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California Senate Bill 292, which granted special privileges for the Farmers Field and Convention Center modification project.

“The Economic Development Project of our Generation” is Approved Without Any Questions or Analysis

Today the LA City Council voted on the Stadium and Convention Center Project – a billion dollar deal that will impact the City and its residents for the next half century. Councilmember Paul Koretz called it “the economic development project of our generation” and “probably the most important decision that any of us will make in our political careers.”

Despite the significance of the vote, however, the City Council approved the project without any significant questioning or scrutiny.  In fact, the meeting was really a cheerleading session and a parade of sports celebrities, instead of a serious, informed Council meeting with actual debate regarding a more than $1 billion, 55-year deal with a company about to change hands.

Instead of receiving any presentation at all on the details about the complicated plan they were about to vote on, Councilmembers heard endorsements from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Rodney Peete. Instead of raising questions about the number of community health and financial issues that have not yet been resolved or mitigated, Councilmembers repeatedly thanked AEG and joked about which NFL team would be returning to Los Angeles.  Councilmember Jose Huizar actually spent most of his comment time reading comments from his facebook profile aloud, instead of addressing the numerous flaws in the plan.

The Council also did not respond to any public testimony – or even listen to it in many cases.  In one instance, while a representative of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) described how the project’s pollution discharge estimates were 10 TIMES the AQMD threshold which could lead to significant respiratory problems for residents and school children, Councilmember Richard Alarcon was playing with a football in the back corner of council chambers (see below).

The outcome of today’s vote was not surprising given AEG’s use of their power and campaign contributions to steamroll this deal forward.  What was surprising is the our City Councilmembers didn’t even feel obligated to create an appearance of doing their job – let alone actually do it.

Seven agenda items related to this project all at once, and no one spoke to the details of any of them – including a legally required approval of an EIR and public acknowledgement that this project will have significant negative impacts on transportation and air quality, a blatant giveaway of air rights on one nearby long-protected property whether the stadium ever gets built, a development agreement that has entire sections without any enforcement capability, and other entitlements and permanent plan changes that impact our communities for years.  Even staunch supporters of the stadium project shouldn’t want the City to leave the project so clearly vulnerable to litigation.

Who is protecting the public’s interest?  Clearly not our City Council – two of whom are running for Mayor and many others preparing for re-election bids.  Play Fair at Farmers Field believes we deserve better, and we will continue to work to ensure the health of our communities is not trampled simply because the Council won’t do its job.

What Else Is The City Hiding?: Council Votes on Stadium Tomorrow Amidst Numerous Unanswered Questions

On September 28th, the LA City Council is set to vote on the proposed Farmers Field and Convention Center modification project. Despite unanimous Planning Commission and Ad Hoc Committee votes in support of the project, there are numerous answered questions that remain.

How will the sale of AEG impact the deal?

Why is the city ignoring members of Mayor Villaraigosa’s own “Vision Team”, who have criticized the project design as “flawed”?

Why is Councilmember Jan Perry now reversing her position that housing is an important issue when discussing the project?

The Mayor has said he new about the sale of AEG for months. If this is true, what else is the city hiding?

We know they are hiding a study that shows the impact of big projects like this on the need for affordable housing - according to this study it could be a $116,000,000 impact to the City’s housing need! Yet the City didn’t even require AEG to analyze the impacts on housing, let alone mitigate them.

In addition to these questions, there remain of host of issues, such as the project’s impact on housing, traffic, public transportation, and public space, that have yet to be addressed sufficiently.

At best, project developer AEG has created vague plans on how to meet its overly ambitious public transportation estimates.

At worst, AEG has outrightly denied the project’s impact on housing and population in the surrounding area. The company has maintained this position despite documentation that more than 1,200 units of low-income housing have been PERMANENTLY lost due to demolitions and mass, illegal evictions since the creation of Staples Center and LA LIVE.

With all of these questions remaining and issues yet to be addressed, it is to soon to move forward on Farmers Field. With so much riding on this vote, it’s time for City Council to do their duty and protect the health of those who would be most impacted by this decision. The project should benefit EVERYONE, not just billionaires.

Video: Press Conference Announcing SB 292 Constitutional Challenge

Footage of the entire press conference held last week to announce the lawsuit against the of California challenging the constitutionality of the law that granted special privileges for the Farmers Field and Convention Center modification project.

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