The Oakland Athletics are asking California lawmakers to pass a bill that would effectively shield the organization from potential environmental lawsuits over construction of a new stadium.
While the A's would still be required to complete a full environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the bill provides an exemption that allows the team to have more legal certainty once the report is completed.
If an individual or organization decides to file a lawsuit against the A's over environmental concern, the matter would have to be resolved within 270 days. Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, said the expedited judicial review is not uncommon for major priorities, which include keeping the A's in Oakland.
"I wouldn't call it preferential treatment," Bonta said. "It's certainly not unprecedented."
A's President Dave Kaval is evaluating two stadium options and expects the team to reach a decision by the end of 2018. The team would either move to a new stadium on its existing property or near Jack London Square. Kaval expects to have the privately-funded stadium completed by 2023. Though there is no precise numbers on the cost of the project, he estimates it will be somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars."
"We're parallel passing both sites," Kaval said. "It's important to have options for the new ballpark. We're working on getting an economic deal with the key stakeholders by the end of the year, so we can move into the CEQA process. We're on track for that so we can open the ballpark by 2023."
Bonta praised the A's for their desire to remain in Oakland and expressed a sense of urgency for the team to move out of "the dinosaur of the Coliseum and into a modern, state-of-the-art ballpark."
Kaval and Bonta said the project will be environmentally responsible, generate over $3 billion in economic activity over 10 years and create more than 2,000 construction jobs.
Much of the opposition to the bill centers around the expedited judicial review process. Kyle Jones, a policy advocate for Sierra Club California, said rushing the process may cause some environmental issues to get overlooked. He also called the new stadium a "politically-favored project."
"The biggest issue that I have personally is that when a project needs to be done, there's a knee-jerk reaction to go to CEQA relief," Jones said.
Kaval disagrees: "We're not asking for anything that the Warriors didn't get in San Francisco or the Kings didn't get in Sacramento. Nothing about our bill is any different than that. All we're asking for is similar treatment that other communities have gotten to get their professional sports teams. Now, it's Oakland's chance."
The bill will be heard at 9 a.m. today in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
JEFF SESSIONS COMING TO L.A.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is coming to Los Angeles today to deliver remarks at the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation's annual meeting.
BODY CAM BILL
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, is presenting a bill to require law enforcement agencies to release body camera footage within 45 days in cases in which an officer uses force or is suspected of breaking the the law. Senate Judiciary Committee, 9 a.m.
MELENDEZ JOINING PANEL ON PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, will participate in a panel at Irvine this afternoon discuss a new report on preventing sexual harassment in academia and in the workplace from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
SALARIES FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS
The California Citizens Compensation Commission holds its annual meeting at 10:30 a.m. today at the Sacramento City Hall to determine salaries for state elected officials.
INFLUENCER OF THE DAY
"California needs its local communities to reform local ordinances and building codes that unduly restrict the supply of affordable housing. Permits for new housing construction should include some component of affordability."
— Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California