By Tony Bizjak
In a strongly worded statement this afternoon, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the owners of the Kings are off-base in comments this week that the city is unlikely to meet environmental review deadlines in time to get an arena built.
"The Maloofs seem to be looking for every reason not to proceed as opposed to looking for ways to make it work," Steinberg said in an email to the Bee.
The senate president pro tem was reacting to a letter sent to the city Monday by a Maloof attorney, arguing that the city was trying to wedge too much environmental work into too short a time frame. City officials have acknowledged they are in a hurry to conduct an environmental review on the arena by next spring to begin construction in order to meet a Kings' deadline to have the arena open by September, 2015.
In the letter, Kings' attorney Scott Zolke said the team owners have serious doubts about whether the city can qualify for an expedited judicial review, under the terms of AB 900, authored by Steinberg. Steinberg's law, written in part to smooth the way for a downtown Sacramento arena, allows certain infill projects to qualify for expedited legal review in court, if challenged.
"The Maloofs are wrong about the timing of the CEQA and appellate review process," Steinberg wrote. He concluded: "We stand ready to work with the city and the appropriate state agencies to ensure the project can qualify for expedited review but we need some willingness from our partners to start the process."