SACRAMENTO (CN) – A dozen citizens sued Sacramento in a vitriolic complaint fulminating against the city’s plan to scrap a basketball arena and build a new one for the NBA’s Kings.
Lead plaintiff Adriana Gianturco Saltonstall minces no words in the lawsuit: “Consummating a deal already brokered with the National Basketball Association, the
Sacramento City Council, led by former NBA player Mayor Kevin Johnson, voted on May 20, 2014 to leave behind a perfectly good sports arena in the middle of urban north Sacramento to demolish a major section of downtown Sacramento and build a hideously-designed sports arena there (the ‘Project’). The new arena capacity would differ from the abandoned ‘Sleep Train’ arena only in the larger number of luxury ‘box suites’ which are sold at a premium, generating more money for the NBA owners.”
A complaisant Legislature granted an exemption to state environmental law so the hideous arena could be built, the plaintiffs say: “In its quest to grease the project for the developers and citing an unsubstantiated threat that the Sacramento Kings corporate basketball team would be moved unless a new arena was built, the City of Sacramento and the wealthy Project promoters sought special-interest state legislation to modify the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to eliminate steps in the environmental review required for all other projects. Their wishes were fulfilled in Senate Bill 743, authored by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg.
“Despite the overwhelming opposition of Sacramento voters to using public funds, the Project commits the City’s general fund to underwrite the half billion dollar corporate sports palace.
“The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a downtown sports arena built for the National Basketball Association and the Sacramento Kings is defective under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and invalid under the California Constitution.
“The environmental impacts of the Project will be staggering, including long back-ups on already crowded local freeway on-and-off ramps; amplified noise belching from open hanger doors of the arena onto the historic downtown Sacramento streets; crowds up to 17,000 pouring out after games onto the darkened streets where Sacramento has been unable to prevent violence and murder from smaller events such as the Thursday Night Market and Second Saturday; choking parking in the residential neighborhoods· from cruising attendees seeking to avoid the higher parking rates and more meters planned to pay the extravagant expense of funding the bonds to build the facility.
“The Court’s writ and relief are urgently required to protect the physical environment from unnecessary environmental impacts and any further commitment to the Project before proper environmental analysis, mitigation and alternatives.”
They also challenge the legality of the Steinberg bill, which “strips environmental review of the public accountability that is the essence of CEQA, while imposing a 270-day timeframe for review.”
And, the plaintiffs say, Sacramento voters three times rejected public subsidy of a “corporate sports arena,” the last time in 2006 by an 80 percent margin.
They seek declaratory judgment that Steinberg’s bill is unconstitutional, writ of mandamus setting aside “any approvals, entitlements, findings or resolutions related to the Project” and forcing the city to comply with CEQA, an injunction and costs.
They are represented by Kelly T. Smith.
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