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Potential bill would speed up legal challenges to Sacramento arena

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Darrell Steinberg, the Sacramento legislator highly supportive of arena efforts to date, and others are preparing to add language speeding up legal challenges to the arena to an existing bill, according to report.

Heather Sails via Wikimedia Commons

As we all know, lots of things can slow down a major construction project like the planned Kings arena in downtown Sacramento. There's the campaign to force a public vote on the 7-2 decision to proceed the City Council made. There's one piece of property that a New York firm is carpetbagging on. There will be an environmental review. And then there will be legal challenges to the environmental review.

The Bee's Tony Bizjak reports that a group of Sacramento-area legislators led by Darrell Steinberg intends to speed up that last item by adding language to a current bill that would affect the arena and an Apple campus in Cupertino.

The proposed law would provide for mediation of disagreements over environmental issues as a shortcut to avoid litigation, the sources said. A provision requires the courts to issue a ruling on any environmental lawsuit within 175 days.

It's really important to note that in no way with the actual environmental review be cut short: every conceivable impact will still be studied, and the City Council will be forced to review it and approve it. This would just fix the "run out the clock" strategy arena opponents will likely take up once the petition drive fails to either gather enough signatures and overcome legal challenges that will rightly allege that this is not a matter eligible for public vote, as the Council was well within its rights to make the decision without a ballot.

State senators have been working on broader CEQA review this year and last, as well. That might end up looking something like this particular language writ large for major local and state projects. It'd be nice if that were already in place, but alas.

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