Gov. Brown signs bill to speed Sacramento arena construction

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed SB 743, the bill designed to speed up construction of the proposed new Sacramento Kings arena at Downtown Plaza.

The law, approved with bipartisan support on the last night of the legislative session Sept. 12, will streamline the court process for any environmental lawsuits that could arise against the $448 million project. It also makes it much harder for judges to halt construction on the project if a suit is filed, and strengthen the city’s ability to use the power of eminent domain, if needed, to buy the Macy’s men’s store to make way for the facility.

“It’s another huge step forward in revitalizing the center of our region,” said the bill’s author, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

While the law is mainly focused on the Kings arena, it also makes some key changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. Those changes, including a new metric for measuring traffic impact of development projects, represent “a real advance for modernizing CEQA,” Steinberg said after the bill was signed.

Brown’s signature was hardly a surprise; he worked with Steinberg to negotiate key provisions of the law. And he was a prominent guest at a dinner in midtown Monday night for the Kings’ newest minority investor, retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. A tweeted photo of O’Neal hoisting Brown’s wife Anne Gust Brown over his head was widely distributed on the Internet.

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