Several Sacramento legislators, led by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, have drafted language for a bill that would streamline the environmental process for a downtown Sacramento arena, sources familiar with the proposal said Thursday night.
The language is expected to be added to a bill in the next few days, said the sources, who wished to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak about the plan.
The bill would still require a full environmental review of the arena, including public comment and mitigation of any adverse impacts - but would speed up the court process if a lawsuit is filed.
The proposed law would provide for mediation of disagreements over environmental issues as a shortcut to avoid litigation, the sources said. A provision requires the courts to issue a ruling on any environmental lawsuit within 175 days.
The bill also includes provisions that allow the city of Sacramento to use eminent domain in a more timely manner, if needed, to assist the Sacramento Kings in purchasing the downtown men's Macy's store to help make room for an arena at Downtown Plaza. The Kings and the building's owner have been in negotiations on a sale price but have not come to an agreement.
The bill is the latest of several introduced in California in recent years to cut through what Steinberg and others have called a burdensome environmental impact study process under the California Environmental Quality Act. Notably, several have been used to help arena or stadium projects.
Sources said the bill will be positioned as a job creation measure, and is designed to help the city and the Kings meet a 2016 opening date for a new downtown arena.
Sources said the bill also would help the expedite the environmental process for the Apple Campus 2 headquarters in Cupertino.