A tentative court ruling last week could present complications to building a new Sacramento Kings arena quickly, but it's unclear if they would be significant.
An Alameda Superior Court judge last Friday indicated he would strike down a portion of AB 900, a two-year-old law designed to fast-track major construction projects that face legal challenges on environmental grounds.
The ruling came as Sacramento officials are trying to persuade the NBA to block the team's proposed move to Seattle. NBA Commissioner David Stern, following presentations from Seattle and Sacramento about their arena plans, said Wednesday he will ask officials in both cities to provide the league with greater detail about potential construction hurdles.
Still, a spokesman for state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who was in New York for the presentation to the NBA, said the Alameda court ruling doesn't appear to be a major handicap to an arena in Sacramento.
"We're not concerned," said spokesman Rhys Williams.
Judge Frank Roesch said he plans to strike down a provision of AB 900 that would require opponents of big construction projects to file their lawsuits in state appellate court, which would have just 175 days to rule. Roesch, ruling in a case brought by the Planning and Conservation League, said opponents should have the right to begin in lower court. That could take longer.
Even so, a big piece of AB 900 remains intact. That provision requires governments overseeing big projects to prepare documents for a lawsuit even as they're undergoing environmental studies. As a result, if someone does sue, court proceedings can begin right away instead of having to wait for months, said Bart Lounsbury, a lawyer for the conservation league.
"It's a great streamlining provision," he said.
Steinberg was asked about California's environmental laws by NBA owners during the presentation in New York. "We were able to explain very clearly that Sacramento and California (are) prepared to do whatever it takes to avoid any unnecessary delay," he told reporters afterward.
Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.