Legislation to help pave the way for construction of a new Los Angeles professional football stadium was approved by the Assembly today.
Senate Bill 292, crafted in the final week of the legislative session, passed the Assembly by a wide margin, 59-13.
The measure would not exempt the proposed football stadium project from state environmental laws, but it would create a process for expedited judicial review of environmental challenges.
Under SB 292, the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeal would issue a decision on a stadium challenge within 175 days, cutting 100 days or more off the typical process, according to an Assembly analysis.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez painted the measure as a way to generate 23,000 construction and other jobs while imposing strict air quality and trip-reduction standards on the proposed Farmers Field Project.
SB 292 would apply only to the Los Angeles project, designed to encourage construction of a privately financed stadium capable of accommodating a National Football League team.
Revenue produced by the stadium is counted upon to finance a new Los Angeles convention center facility.
Opponents criticized accommodating a wealthy development group, Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG, with a stadium-specific bill in the final days of a legislative year.
"This is no way to run a railroad," said Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat who nonetheless applauded the bill as narrowly tailored and environmentally sensitive.
Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, questioned the value of many jobs that would be created by a new stadium -- ushers, ticket sellers, popcorn vendors and other such positions do not provide long-term stability, he said.
Norby said that no developer would build a football stadium without assurance of a team - and if the San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles, as many fear, would that really be economic development for California?
"Moving professional sports teams within the state is not economic development, it's checkers - and ultimately there is a public price that must be paid," Norby said.
SB 292 now goes to the Senate amid talks among legislative leaders of expanding the concept to create similar exceptions on other construction projects, including a downtown arena in Sacramento.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has talked with Perez and Gov. Jerry Brown about a companion measure to accelerate judicial review for alternative energy manufacturing plants, clean energy projects and urban infill projects.
* Updated at 5:05 p.m. to note that revenue from the stadium is counted upon to finance a new convention center facility,