“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.

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