Steinberg Leads Bipartisan Coalition in CEQA Streamlining Measure for Sacramento Sports and Entertainment Complex

August 30, 2013

(Sacramento) – A bipartisan delegation of Greater Sacramento state legislators led by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg is authoring a measure to expedite construction of a Sacramento sports and entertainment complex which will create thousands of high-wage construction jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic activity for the Sacramento region.

The bill will maintain full environmental protection and analysis while allowing for speedier judicial review in the event of any lawsuits challenging the project. It is supported by the City of Sacramento and twelve other cities in the region, the counties of Sacramento and Yolo, the Sacramento Kings, a variety of civic groups and organized labor. While some provisions are specific to this project, the bill also fixes elements of AB 900 (2011) to allow streamlining of other large, environmentally-sustainable infill projects creating jobs all over our state.

The bill by Senator Steinberg is being jointly authored by Senators Jim Nielsen (R-Roseville), Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin), Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton). Co-authors are Assemblymembers Dan Logue (R-Marysville), Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova).

“The bipartisan support for this bill speaks volumes to the commitment we all have to this project, to the Sacramento region, and to the entire state,” said Senator Steinberg. “This bill still demands a full public environmental review and the right of people to contest the project. It delivers a quicker resolution of any legal challenges, but the project will still have to satisfy California’s tough environmental standards. It is not a CEQA exemption. We need to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring this catalyst for jobs and economic stimulus to the Sacramento region.”

“From day one, our plans to create 4,000 jobs and revitalize downtown Sacramento through a new entertainment and sports complex have been a bipartisan, statewide effort,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “I commend Senator Steinberg and his colleagues for their steadfast support and look forward to working with the Legislature to ensure continue progress on the project.”

“A new, modern multi-purpose sports complex will both revitalize the downtown area and highlight our Sacramento Kings,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Roseville). “This project will propel our region to be a magnet for jobs and other economic investments.”

“We shouldn’t let onerous environmental regulations and frivolous lawsuits get in the way of job creation and infrastructure development,” said Senator Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin).

“This is consistent with our prior efforts to see that important infill projects can move forward in a timely manner, without sacrificing environmental protections or the rights of project opponents. I have worked with the project developer before in Davis and have great confidence in his ability to deliver a project of tremendous economic, civic, and environmental benefit to our region,” said Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis).

“Growing our economy and creating jobs is my top priority and this project delivers on both fronts. Let’s move forward,” said Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton).

"I am pleased to join as a co-author of this important measure," stated Assemblymember Dan Logue (R-Marysville). "This issue is critical to the Sacramento region and will serve to bring the city forward as a modern metropolitan region while also expanding and enhancing job growth and economic expansion. The Kings bring a great identity to Sacramento, and I am proud to stand alongside Senator Steinberg to streamline the arena building process to keep Sacramento booming.”

“A new downtown arena will provide the foundation for a transformation of the core of Sacramento, enhance the quality of life for our residents, and spur our regional economy,” said Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). “This bill serves to ensure the timely completion of the project while respecting CEQA and advancing our environmental goals.”

“World-class entertainment and cultural facilities elevate our region and bring all of us together,” said Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). “I am proud to support legislation to ensure an environmentally sustainable arena that will be the home of the Kings and attract leading artists and athletes to Sacramento.”

“California needs to find better ways to speed vital community projects. This bill gives us a test bed for such ideas,” said Assemblymember Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova). “Further, the arena project will create an estimated 4,000 high wage jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and economic activity for our region. It’s worth doing.”

Provisions of the bill specific to the Sacramento Kings downtown project include:

  • Expediting judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) while still requiring a full Environmental Impact Report, public comment and mitigation of any adverse environmental impacts.
  • Provides for mediation to resolve contested issues without litigation
  • Limits injunctive relief so that downtown arena-related construction cannot be stopped unless the court finds a danger to public health and safety, or impact on Native American archeological grounds. This provision is similar to SB 292 (2011) related to the development of a downtown Los Angeles football stadium.
  • Allows eminent domain proceedings, if necessary, to proceed concurrently with the CEQA process. No other changes are made to the current requirements of a local government agency to invoke eminent domain.

The provision which applies to all large, high wage Environmental Leadership Projects statewide is a fix to AB 900, after a ruling by Alameda County Superior Court. This measure addresses that issue by requiring an expeditious environmental challenge review process at the county superior court level, in addition to an expeditious review process at the appellate court level.

Attached please find draft language of the measure, which will be assigned a bill number and will be formally introduced within the next week.

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