California lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to bypass a key state environmental law that would dramatically ease the construction of rail, bus and other transit projects connected to Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympic Games in 2028.
Under the bill, any public transportation effort related to the city’s Olympics bid would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, 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.
The measure, Senate Bill 789, also provides major CEQA relief to help the construction of an NBA arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in nearby Inglewood.
If it passes, the bill would speed transit officials’ attempts to build rail and bus lines in advance of the 2028 Olympic Games while also providing a boost to the arena’s chances at getting completed. Doing so, however, would cut through longstanding regulations that environmentalists and community activists in California have held as sacrosanct to preserving the state’s natural beauty and involving residents in the development process.
State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who represents Inglewood in the Legislature and is the author of the bill, said both the Olympics and construction of the Clippers’ arena were too important to risk stalling through the regular CEQA process.
“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.