On the eve of the City Council vote on the new Sacramento Kings arena, the team and Mayor Kevin Johnson today will announce the formation of an advisory committee to gauge whether the construction project meets certain goals on local hiring, sustainability and other “community impact” standards.
Johnson and Kings President Chris Granger were set to announce formation of the Sacramento First Community Advisory Council at a City Hall press conference. The announcement comes a day before the City Council is expected to vote on a development agreement with the Kings and a $255 million public subsidy for the Downtown Plaza arena.
The formation of the committee appears designed to show the breadth of political support for the project, which remains controversial with many Sacramentans even though it’s widely expected that the council will vote Tuesday to approve the arena.
The committee will be co-chaired by City Councilman Allen Warren, an arena supporter, and Clothilde Hewlett, a San Francisco attorney who represents the Kings and is considered an expert on diversity and small business contracting. Committee members include the mayor’s chief of staff and representatives of arena’s general contractor, Turner Construction, and project architect AECOM. It will meet every three months during the life of the project, starting in June.
Some advocacy groups have been calling on the Kings and the city to adopt certain “community benefit” standards, such a preferences in hiring for low-income Sacramentans and low-income residents.
The Kings, however, had already made a public pledge to hire as many local firms as possible for the project. In December, the team said it was committed to having area subcontractors perform 60 percent of the work, with small businesses getting 20 percent. The Kings have also promised to make sure at least 70 “priority apprentices” are hired for the project from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and neighborhoods.
The makeup of the committee reflects a delicate balancing act in certain respects. Its membership includes Lino Pedres, president of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. A month ago, the council sent a letter to the mayor urging the City Council to delay approvals for the “ancillary development” surrounding the arena. The reason: The Kings haven’t committed to staffing the proposed hotel at Downtown Plaza with union workers. The labor council, however, has remained a supporter of the arena itself.
The council plans to vote on the ancillary development along with the arena Tuesday.
Aside from employment issues, the new arena committee will also scrutinize the project’s commitment to achieving environmental goals. Under the terms of a bill passed by the Legislature last year, the arena must be built to certain sustainability standards to qualify for expedited treatment under the California Environmental Quality Act. The bill, SB 743, makes it much harder for project opponents to delay construction by filing a CEQA lawsuit.
The committee will keep an eye on the Kings’ pledge of $5.5 million to public art at the arena. The budget is in line with the required commitment to art in public buildings. The arena is considered a public building because of the city’s subsidy.
LIVE AT SACBEE.COM
Chat live online with Bee columnist Marcos Breton about the Kings arena vote. His Q&A begins at noon Tuesday, followed by a live blog that will cover the 2:30 p.m. Kings fan rally at City Hall, 6 p.m. city council meeting and news conference to follow with Kevin Johnson and Vivek Ranadive. 11:30 a.m. Wednesday
Join Breton for a live Q&A session online to discuss the vote and arena plan.