- Written by Kevin James
15 May 2012
STADIUM POLITICS - AEG’s 10,000 page Environmental Impact Report is four times the size of the Obama Administration’s health care bill, and eight times the size of War and Peace.
If built, some believe Farmers Field would be constructed in 2013 while others are not sure when construction would begin. If Farmers Field is built it would be a part of our skyline for over 40 years. But residents are only being allowed 45 days – just over six weeks – to review what AEG claims to be the most "thorough environmental impact report in history."
As a candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles and a concerned citizen who has serious questions about Farmers Field and the permanent changes it would cause in relation to the Convention Center, I call upon the City’s Ad Hoc Committee on The Proposed Downtown Stadium and Events Center to obtain an extension from the City of the review period by a mere 45 days.
The Ad Hoc Committee is Chaired by Councilwoman Jan Perry. Councilman Bill Rosendahl serves as Vice-Chair. An extension this brief would not disrupt the timetable of the NFL or of AEG’s proposed construction but would allow residents and council members an opportunity to thoroughly review one of the biggest proposals in Los Angeles in recent memory.
Common sense suggests several good reasons for my requested extension. If built, construction of Farmers Field would not even start until 2013 at the earliest. Also, the NFL will not allow serious negotiations or the final sale of a team until after the 2013 Super Bowl. Furthermore, the NFL has been using Los Angeles as a bargaining tool for various team owners for nearly 20 years and does not seem to be in a hurry now. So, what’s the rush?
A quick review of the environmental report confirms a heavy use of public money – something many Angelenos feared all along. While AEG has guaranteed the costs of the stadium and municipal bonds, taxpayers of Los Angeles will be left covering the tab for street improvements, railway extensions and a proposed auxiliary lane for the 101 freeway.
The additional lane for the 101 could cost Los Angeles billions of dollars and AEG has only agreed to pay $2.4 million to study the project. A second source of public funds will go to cover new light rail trains and buses, platform extensions, and capital and operational expenses for increased serviceability – all of which AEG has put on the public’s back.
We have been promised from the beginning by all of our elected officials that no public money would be used. We need additional time to ensure that the people of Los Angeles will not get left holding the bill.
In addition, Sacramento has already provided AEG with an environmental pass. The least our City Council can and should do is provide residents, voters and environmental groups with a reasonable opportunity to review the impact on our local environment.
Transportation ramifications need more analysis. AEG only studied 177 intersections. In a presentation to the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association last year, AEG representatives claimed that AEG would study every intersection from here to Brea. They clearly did not.
AEG also failed to study the combined effects of traffic between Farmers Field and the STAPLES Center or Dodger Stadium. Maybe that means the NBA will agree that the Lakers and Clippers will not play on Sunday during football season (which seems like a stretch to me) or maybe it was an oversight, but either way we need to ask those questions.
And then there’s parking vs. public transportation. Despite big assurances that everyone will ditch their cars and seek light rail, the numbers do not add up. In New York, the home of the most comprehensive public transportation system in the country, no more than 8,000 fans take public transportation to Jets and Giants football games.
Also, AEG’s report used Target Field in Minneapolis and AT&T Park in San Francisco as comparison stadiums regarding their assumption of how many football fans would take public transportation to get to Farmers Field. What virtually every reporter covering the story seemed to miss is that Target Field and AT&T Park are baseball stadiums – Farmers Field is for football.
Football has a tailgating culture that baseball simply does not have and as I told an Associated Press reporter at AEG’s press conference, football fans cannot take their barbeque grills and other tailgating equipment on the subway.
Parking is obviously important to drivers in Los Angeles. Outside parking that allows for tailgating is a significant attraction for football fans. AEG did not study either and we need to know why.
My call for a 45-day extension is based on common sense and common concerns. There is no rush and no legitimate reason why the City’s Ad Hoc Committee on The Proposed Downtown Stadium and Events Center should not seek an extension of the review period by 45 days.
I ask that Councilwoman Perry and Councilman Rosendahl exercise leadership in their roles as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively of the City’s Ad Hoc Committee and side with the taxpayers and the community on this request and allow us more time to review AEG’s EIR which AEG claims is the "most thorough in history."
(Kevin James is an attorney, former Asst. U.S. Attorney, former radio broadcaster and candidate for LA Mayor and occasional contributor to CityWatch. He can be reached at kevinjamesformayor.com)
Tags: Kevin James, AEG Stadium, football stadium, LA Stadium, EIR, Farmers Field, City Hall, City Council, Mayor, Jan Perry, Ad Hoc Committee, Bill Rosendahl
Vol 10 Issue 39
Pub: May 15, 2012