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Katy Grimes

Sacto arena bill signed, but it’s not over yet

I hate “I told ya so” moments.

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed SB 743, “easing environmental regulations for developments in California cities, including a new basketball arena in downtown Sacramento,” the Los Angeles Times said.

In March I predicted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would jam legislation through exempting the Sacramento Kings new arena plan from the restrictions of the California Environmental Quality Act, in order to meet a dubious deadline imposed by the NBA.

March 30, after Steinberg’s office told me he did not plan on authoring legislation to streamline or bypass the required environmental process for the proposed Sacramento NBA arena, I predicted they weren’t being straight with me.

Steinberg’s office denied any plan to do this. But the reason I wrote the story and asked about this was I knew this was the next step in scamming the public with the publicly subsidized arena.

The need to bypass California’s absurdly strict environmental guidelines and restrictions prevent most large scale projects from ever taking place without legislative intervention. And Sacramento officials shoved the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Steinberg’s “enviro reform” hidden under Sacto basketball stadium

The California Legislature ended the 2013 legislative session Thursday by passing hundreds of new bills. Most of the controversial bills were passed along party lines. However a bill from Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, granting a Sacramento arena development an exemption from the state’s strict environmental laws, had plenty of help from state Republicans.

Reform or worsen?

Steinberg insists he’s only trying to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. SB 743, is a gut-and-amend bill by Steinberg is titled, “Environmental quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento.”

That’s the long way of saying this is not really a CEQA reform bill. It’s a face-saving way out for Steinberg who has been awkwardly intertwined for more than 13 years with the haphazard development of a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento.

On its way to the Gov

This isn’t a one-off bill. Exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act were granted… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacto arena deal violates public policy and public trust

The dubious arena deal in Sacramento has strange bedfellows aligning. The lack of public debate, the fishy numbers put out by the city, and the deceit about the growing public subsidy has angered many voters. Now legislation by Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would let the stadium developers avoid a real environmental impact review in order to forge ahead without public debate.

But it gets even uglier. I have written extensively about this bad “public-private deal” — a bureaucratic expression which should always generate skepticism.

The Steinberg bill, which will be formally introduced today, would allow the city to bypass addressing real traffic impacts in its Environmental Impact Report on the arena project. According to several analysts I’ve spoken with, the bill… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento arena: A ‘Field of Schemes’

Sacramento officials have lost all ability to reason, and instead are letting emotions and delusions of grandeur drive their decision over a downtown sports arena.

Arenas are nothing more that fields of schemes, and the joke is on taxpayers. And Sacramento is hardly a bastion of economic splendor. Despite some of the highest unemployment in the country, escalating business closures, widespread home foreclosures and short sales, and declining tax revenue, arena talks are all the rage in Sacramento.

Judith Grant Long’s data on full public cost of stadiums and arenas is groundbreaking. “Where most ‘stadium cost’ charts just rely on self-reporting by teams, Harvard researcher Long has actually attempted to calculate the public and private costs of every major-league stadium and arena in North America, including hidden subsidies like free land, lease breaks, and tax exemptions,” Field of Schemes Neil deMause wrote.

It’s as if the Mayor is so enamored of the idea of driving away from the car dealership in a new Maserati, he’s forgotten he can’t afford… Read More

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