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Mayor Butts Lobbies for Senate Bill 789

Thursday, September 14, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

Tuesday\s council meeting drew a packed house, filled with people opposed to Senate Bill 789.  

 

The bill, now being considered in the State Capitol, would limit the environmental review process by the California Environmental Quality Act (SEQA) on all transit projects for the proposed L.A. Clippers arena in Inglewood and the 2028 L.A. Olympics.   Inglewood’s new NFL stadium (under construction) will host the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies.

 

SB 789 was authored by state Sen. Steve Bradford, who represents Inglewood.  

 

According to Mayor James Butts (who was absent from the meeting, and lobbying in support of the bill in Sacramento) and other supporters, the bill would only limit the timeline for SEQA to file lawsuits, should problems arise. 

 

Councilman Eloy Morales said lawsuits can tie up development projects for years and years, and explained the reasoning behind the bill:

 

“The reason for the timeline is to give 2 years for the EIR (Environmental Impact Report), 2 years for the review, and 2 years for the build out, which will give the Clippers the time table they need.”  The Clippers lease at Staples Center expires in 7 years.

 

A group called the Uplift Inglewood Coalition is critical of the bill in its current form and took issue with comments made by Butts to the press on Monday.  “Butts statement is false.  We’re not outsiders or competitors.  We are local residents, community groups and businesses concerned about the environment and risks to public health and safety,” one man said.  

 

A woman complained that jobs created by the arena would disappear after the arena was completed, while others saw the jobs as an opportunity to build careers.  “The jobs will be over, but your skills won’t,” said Ray Davis.

 

Butts gave a progress report on the bill in a statement late Wednesday, “We faced a well financed opposition that spent large sums of money to spin a false narrative, including attack TV commercials.  Our bill is within one vote of making it out of committee.  If it fails, we will return next session.”

 

La Tuna Fire 30 Percent Contained

Thursday, September 07, 2017

The massive hurricane in Texas, and another one about to touch down in Florida are said to be among the most devastating in U.S. history.  Now, more than 1,000 firefighters are battling one of the largest brush fires ever in California.

 

The La Tuna Canyon fire, which began last Friday, is currently burning in the Sun Valley,  Sunland-Tujunga and Burbank areas, and is believed to be one of the largest blazes in terms of acreage in Los Angeles  history.  By Sunday evening, the fire was 30 percent contained, and had burned an estimated 7,003 acres.  Los Angeles Fire Department officials said.  All evacuation orders were lifted as of 6 p.m. 

 

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County on Sunday morning, allowing more resources to be available to combat the fire.  By Monday afternoon, fire officials were optimistic the worst was over, and said the fire was no longer active.  

 

The multiagency effort consisted of 1,061 firefighters from the region and throughout the state, 206 fire engines, nine aircraft, 12 hand crews and nine ambulances, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said.

 

Fire officials said eight people suffered non-life-threatening injuries: Four firefighters had heat-related illnesses. One firefighter incurred minor burns and another had an allergic reaction to a beesting. One civilian suffered a heat-related illness and another civilian was treated for a minor eye injury.

 

“We’ve only had four injuries,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “That is, considering something of this size, really a miracle.”

 

The blaze initially started for unknown reasons at 1:25 p.m. Friday near the 10800 block of La Tuna Canyon Road, just south of the 210 Freeway.

 

The La Tuna incident is being managed under Unified Command. It includes LAFD, Glendale Fire Department, Burbank Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, with assistance from the state office of emergency services, CALFIRE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 

The cause and estimated cost of the wild fire is not yet known. 

 

 

 

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On Tuesday, both houses of the California legislature passed a resolution that will immortalize former President Barack Obama.  A portion of the Ventura Freeway (134), between the Glendale (2) and Foothill (210) freeways will be named the President Barack H. Obama Freeway.

 

The dedicated portion of the highway is the same stretch Obama drove from his apartment in Pasadena when he attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock from 1979 to 1981.  He would later move to the East Coast to attend Harvard, become a State Senator in Illinois, then a U.S. Senator, and eventually become the nation’s first African American U.S. president.

 

"I am so proud to have authored this proposal to forever appreciate and commemorate President Obama’s tremendous legacy, statesmanship and direct connection to Southern California,” Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino said his a statement.  His district represents the area of the freeway to be renamed.

 

And the fact that the resolution was passed on the same day the Trump administration announced its plan to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, did not go unnoticed by Portantino.

 

"It is also quite appropriate and symbolic that the California Legislature would pass this resolution for a president filled with compassion on the same day we witness another president turn his back on 800,000 children," he said.

 

Portantino also said the naming of the freeway honors the 44th president's connection to Southern California.

 

"It is so important that California highlights the dignity of President Obama," he said. "His direct connection to Southern California in general and to the 134 Freeway specifically makes this the appropriate and exciting place to recognize his tremendous accomplishments and the presidential manner in which he led our country."

 

In Los Angeles, a campaign has been launched to rename a portion of Rodeo Road in honor of the president.

 

Growing a City

Thursday, September 07, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

The agenda was light at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and was reflected in the low turnout.  

 

The council voted to adopt the Amended Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Salary Ordinance to include the Inglewood Police Officers Association negotiated salary increases.  The ordinance was introduced August 22, 2017. 

 

During final public comments, long time resident Ray Davis noted how developers are now making good use of vacant properties.  “I was on Hazel Street and I passed a vacant field that had been lying dormant. I saw them (workers), getting ready to build on the property. I was told when it is done, it might go for half a million.”

 

Councilman George Dotson will be having another shredding event this Saturday, September 9 at the ICOP Center at 7th and Manchester.  Councilman Alex Padilla invited the public to his District 2 Annual Picnic and Chili Cook Off, also on Saturday.  “Come join us for the District 2 Chili Cook Off at noon.  Bring food to share for the community table,” he said.  

 

Councilman Eloy Morales announced a Spanish Fiesta that will take place on September 16 at Crozier Middle School, 120 W. Regent Street, behind City Hall.

 

Mayor James Butts took the opportunity to reassert the City’s autonomy regarding development opportunities.  “We are battling heavy to make sure we maintain our sense of self determination,” the mayor said. 

 

 

State lawmakers introduced a bill last week to limit the environmental review process by the California Environmental Quality Act on all rail, bus and related transit projects for the 2028 L.A. Olympics and the proposed L.A. Clippers arena in Inglewood. 

 

The bill would exempt CEQA, the state’s primary environmental law, governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process that involves litigation.

 

Senate Bill 789, would cut through longstanding regulations that environmentalists and community activists in California have used as a means to preserving the state’s natural beauty and involving residents in the development process. 

 

Chris Meany, project manager for the Clippers arena, said developers will still undergo a full review under CEQA, including writing an environmental impact report, and working with Inglewood residents to improve the project.  “The bill would only fix the timeline for lawsuits that might be filed by our competitors,” Meany said.

 

No residents or churches in Inglewood would be forced to move under eminent domain during construction of the arena.  However, that same protection is not extended to local businesses.

 

Los Angeles regional transportation officials plan to increase services dramatically in advance of the Olympic Games, including expanded light rail in Leimert Park, Inglewood and El Segundo, and from Koreatown through West L.A. Many projects already are under construction, and others are far along in the environmental review process. A proposed people-mover at Los Angeles International Airport linking terminals with shuttle buses, ride-hailing services and a new light-rail connection is currently facing a CEQA lawsuit.

 

State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) represents Inglewood in the Legislature, and is the author of the bill.   Both the Olympics and construction of the Clippers’ arena were too important to risk stalling through the regular CEQA process, he said. 

 

“These major projects will help boost the economy in Inglewood and the Greater Los Angeles region, while improving investment, entertainment and highlighting Inglewood’s significance to California,” Bradford said in a statement.

 

Meany cited a previous case where state lawmakers shortened court-decision deadlines for lawsuits to expedite construction of the Sacramento Kings arena in 2013.  He is hoping the same consideration will be given to the Clippers.

 

Requests for the bill did not come from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, nor LA 2028, and “we do not need them to make the 2028 Games a success,” Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said in a statement, adding that the mayor first saw the final legislation Friday morning and was still reviewing it.

 

However, the City of Los Angeles and surrounding areas would benefit from a streamlined approach to getting transit projects approved and in place by the time the Olympics begin in 2028.  The Clippers would not play in Inglewood until 2024, when the team’s lease expires at Staples Center.

 

The bill has to pass both houses of the Legislature before lawmakers adjourn for the year on Sept. 15. 

 

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