Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On the "Houstonization" of Inglewood, California for Sports Billionaires

By Alex Walker

The Golden State of California has an international reputation as a environmental leader., with the breathtaking beauty of our redwood forests, high deserts, sandy beaches, and snow-capped peaks. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations we, sure have setup an impressive store of environmental laws. But as the old saying goes God (or the devil) is in the details. As I write this,clever moves are under way by "liberal" legislators on behalf of the big league sports 1% in inner-city Inglewood, California. In this gentrifying working class city where Democrats can always sell thse projects as jobs for po' little oppressed "People of Color" (POVs) -- bipartisan "Houstonization" carries the day.
  1. Inglewood deal with the Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Team
  2. Inglewood deal with the Saint Louis Rams Football team
  3. Legislative initiatives to work around Cali environmental laws
  4. The record of Cali sports stadiums deals
  5. Big league sports and the "Houstonization" of American cities
Relevant Activist Links: 

The Uplift Inglewood Coalition: http://www.upliftinglewood.org
Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles: https://www.facebook.com/blmla/
Center for International Environmental Law: http://www.ciel.org/

The Inglewood Deal with Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Team

In the Summer ofr 2017, The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved an an "exclusive negotiating agreement" with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that could lead to the construction of an arena for the NBA team across the street from the future home of the NFL's Chargers and Rams.

Posted By NBA.com, Jun 15, 2017 
New LA Clippers arena approved by Inglewood City Council 

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that could lead to the construction of an arena for the NBA team across the street from the future home of the NFL's Chargers and Rams. 
The agreement calls for a three-year negotiating period, including a six-month extension, with a developer to build a state-of-the-art basketball arena with 18,000 to 20,000 seats. It requires the Clippers to pay a non-refundable $1.5 million deposit to cover costs associated with the planning. 
The proposed arena would be on a 20-acre parcel of land located across the street from the under-construction, $2.6 billion NFL stadium that is set to open in 2020. The Clippers' complex would include team offices, parking and a practice facility.
The land is currently occupied by a variety of businesses. 
The Clippers have a lease to play at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles through 2024. However, the team's owner, Steve Ballmer, has been open about his desire for a new arena since he bought the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014. 
The Clippers share Staples with the Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL's Kings and the WNBA's Sparks, leaving the Clippers third in choice of dates. They've played at the arena since it opened in 1999. 
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is privately financing the NFL stadium as part of a 698-acre mixed-use development that includes housing, retail and entertainment. The stadium is scheduled to host the Super Bowl in 2022. 
See Original Article: http://www.nba.com/article/2017/06/15/la-clippers-considering-new-arena-inglewood
At end of the summer. Inglewood residents, local businesses, and the owners of the nearby Inglewwod Forum, expressed concerns about the consequences of opening yet another sports arena in the city.

Published in the Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2017
Possible Clippers Arena has Many Inglewood Residents Worried They May Lose Their Homes or Businesses 
By Nathan Fenno 
When construction started on the $2.6-billion stadium for the Rams and Chargers last year, Bobby Bhagat figured his family’s commitment to Inglewood would finally pay off. 
For more than 40 years, they’ve owned the Rodeway Inn and Suites on busy Century Boulevard. The tidy 36-room property sits across the street from the 298 acres where the vast sports and entertainment district is starting to take shape. 
“We’ve got a gold mine now that the stadium is coming,” said Bhagat, whose father and uncle originally purchased the building. “This is what we worked for. We’ve been waiting for something like this to happen. Now with the Clippers project, it’s all up in the air.” 
The family’s gold mine could face a bulldozer. 
When a Clippers-controlled company and Inglewood agreed in June to explore building an arena, the 22-page deal sent panic through the neighborhood. Some residents are praying for the project to fail, losing sleep, participating in protests, consulting lawyers.
All this because of the legalese buried in the agreement broaching the possibility of using eminent domain to supplement land already owned by the city. The site map attached to the document shows 100 “potential participating parcels” over a four-block area where the arena might be built. Eminent domain allows cities and other government agencies to pay fair market value to take private property from residents or business owners against their wishes for public uses. 
The map doesn’t indicate there are an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 people, predominately Latino, who live in the four-block area. Same for the scores of children — schools are a short walk away — and blue-collar residents who have been in the same houses for decades. Many residences include multiple generations of the same family. The median income hovers around $30,000. 
The area includes the Inglewood Southside Christian Church, more than 40 single-family homes, apartment buildings with about 500 units, several businesses and the Rodeway Inn and Suites. 
The city owns large parcels of land in the area around the business, making it one of the most plausible arena sites. 
“It’s not an eyesore, it’s not blighted, it’s well-kept, well-maintained and we don’t want to go anywhere,” Bhagat said. “We’re going to fight tooth and nail to stop the project.”
He is among a growing number of business owners and residents pushing back against Clippers owner Steve Ballmer’s proposal to construct the “state of the art” arena with 18,000 to 20,000 seats alongside a practice facility, team offices and parking. Ballmer, worth an estimated $32 billion, has said the team will honor its lease to play at Staples Center through the 2024 season. 
See Original Article: http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-clippers-inglewood-residents-20170813-story.html

The Rams deal may not be a "gold mine" for the "little people" either. It may, however, be a "diamond mine" for the 1% The $2.6 billion stadium is contemplating a ticket-pricing scheme unprecedented in the NFL.

Published in the Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2017
Rams Could Have the Most Expensive Seat in America 
By Nathan Fenno and Sam Farmer 
The $2.6-billion stadium Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood will be the world’s costliest venue with a ticket pricing plan that would offer the most expensive seats in NFL history. 
According to a document obtained by The Times, the highest priced personal seat licenses for Rams games could range from $175,000 to $225,000 per seat. It would far eclipse the $150,000 PSLs offered by the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
The license only entitles the owner to purchase a Rams season ticket after paying the one-time fee, which in a first for the NFL will be refundable — without interest — after 50 years. The buyer must then purchase a game ticket with the best club seats tentatively priced between $350 and $400 a game. The PSL can be sold to another party with permission from the Rams, a standard practice in the league.
. .  
Virtually all of the stadium’s 70,240 seats (about 5,000 are for suites) will require seat licenses, although licenses won’t be required for standing-room tickets. The document projects 80% of the PSL revenue will come from club seats, which make up 25% of the seats in the program. Despite the price range in the document, the most expensive club seats are expected to be closer to $175,000 when prices are final, according to a person familiar with the arrangement. 
The NFL’s three newest stadiums priced the licenses much lower: Atlanta ($45,000), Minnesota ($9,500) and San Francisco ($80,000). About half of the NFL’s teams use PSLs or something similar to finance their stadium.
. . .
See Original Article: http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-rams-psl-20170831-story.html

In the latest development. State Sen. Steve Bradford is engineering a last-minute end-run around the state laws requiring  Environmental Impact Report (E.I.R.) reports for development projects of this scope.

Published in The Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2017 
Backers of a New Clippers Arena in Inglewood Push a Last-Minute Plan in Sacramento 
By Liam Dillon and Nathan Fenno
Supporters of the Clippers’ proposed new arena in Inglewood are pushing for major help at the Capitol to get the project built.
Backers are seeking last-minute legislation that would give the arena a significant break under the state’s primary environmental law governing development, according to a preliminary draft of the bill obtained by the Los Angeles Times. 
Under the proposal, any lawsuits against the arena filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, must aim to be wrapped up within nine months, a significantly shorter timeline than in typical cases. 
The bill would also limit a court’s ability to halt the arena’s construction, even if it found the project's environmental review didn't adequately study traffic problems or had other flaws. Both of these perks were supported by the Legislature in 2013 to benefit a new basketball arena for the Kings in downtown Sacramento.
The Clippers proposal would also provide the same legal relief to a new transit hub that could include a street car or monorail for easier access to the new arena and the nearby under-construction NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers. It would also allow the city to permit more billboards and other signage around the arena than otherwise allowed under the law. 
The author of the draft bill is Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who represents Inglewood in the Legislature. Bradford wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday. 
In a statement, Chris Meany, the project manager for the arena, confirmed that the team was supporting the proposal in the Legislature and likened it to breaks under the environmental law that lawmakers have given to other stadium and arena plans.
"The L.A. Clippers will fully comply with the California Environmental Quality Act for its proposed city of Inglewood basketball arena and team facilities,” Meany said. “This compliance will include an open and transparent public hearing process.”
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said in an email to the Times that the city supports the proposed legislation and sought the help of its representatives in Sacramento to ease development of the arena and transit hub.
. . .
See Original Article: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-inglewood-arena-legislative-exemption-20170823-story.html

The byzantine maneuvering around ther Rams, Chargers, and Clippers is not unusual in today's American or even in California. The Sacramento Bee has published an analysis of deals for the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. While it seems counter-intuitive, the subtle truth is that the big league sports billionaires do not want to be in world-famous metropolis like San Francisco or Los Angeles proper, and those bega-cties do not want them or need them. The 1% has figured out that the "price" of local politicians is cheaper in smaller towns populated by "the little people."  

Published in the Sacromental Bee, Qugust 31, 2017 

Why Santa Clara and Inglewood are Football Losers 
By Joe Mathews

Will California’s four National Football League teams – the 49ers, Raiders, Rams, and Chargers – win big in the new season? 
Who knows? But we already can identify the losers: California cities foolish enough to host teams. 
In other states, major cities build NFL stadiums because they see football franchises as providing a publicity and economic boost. But in California, with its nation-sized economy and globally famous big cities, major cities have been shedding their football teams, and avoiding the headaches of devoting valuable California real estate to stadiums. 
In this contest, the biggest winner is San Francisco, which got free of its NFL headache by “losing” the 49ers to Santa Clara. Across the Bay, Oakland, which resisted building a new stadium for the Raiders, will win by shipping them off to Las Vegas in three years. 
San Diego registered its civic triumph when – after its voters defeated a proposed new stadium – the Chargers left for a temporary home in the L.A. County city of Carson. In 2020, the Chargers, along with the Rams – who relocated to Southern California in 2016, from St. Louis – will move into a new, shared stadium in the city of Inglewood. 
The destinations of these teams are telling. The only places in California that seem willing to risk hosting an NFL team are smaller and poorer, cities in the shadow of global municipalities. Desperate for high-profile development, such cities devote land and resources to teams that won’t even incorporate their names. (It’s the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, not the Santa Clara 49ers or Inglewood Rams.) 
That’s the least of the indignities of being an NFL city. Economic studies show that sports teams merely siphon dollars from other entertainment-oriented businesses. And then there’s the cost of civic conflict that greedy NFL teams can engender.
The Santa Clara stadium, while billed as privately financed, required a hotel tax and $600 million in construction loans by a city-related entity. 
Three years after it opened, city and team are fighting about everything from the 49ers’ use of local soccer fields for parking to whether the team lives up to its promises on financial disclosure and stadium spending. 
“We learned we cannot trust the 49ers,” Santa Clara’s mayor told the San Francisco Chronicle this spring. 
Things aren’t that bad in Inglewood yet, where the opening of the stadium, part of a larger entertainment complex, is three years away. But construction is already a year behind schedule, and community opposition is growing. The stadium, sold as a totally private project, could cost the city an estimated $100 million in tax breaks. 
None of this should surprise. Most NFL teams are profitable, so those teams that must relocate – including all four of California’s – carry the stink of failure. It’s no coincidence that California’s NFL owners show up in rankings of the worst owners in pro sports.
These include the Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke, who has produced teams with losing records for a decade. The Spanos family, which owns the Chargers, alienated San Diego with poor management. Raiders owner Mark Davis, perhaps the NFL’s poorest owner, inherited the team from his late father, Al Davis, a litigious scoundrel who moved the team from Oakland to L.A. and back. 
And USA Today said 49ers owner Jed York had turned the team into “the NFL’s biggest joke.” 
Meanwhile, life after NFL football looks pretty good. San Francisco, sans the 49ers, is more prosperous than ever, and is using Candlestick Park, its former home, for developments more valuable than the stadium was. San Diego, still wrestling with the costs of the Chargers’ old stadium, is imagining happier development possibilities in replacing it. 
Oakland should find that the departure of the Raiders opens up transformational opportunities for land next to a transit center. 
But enough about the winners. NFL football in California is for losers. Pity the home teams. 
See Original Article: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article170132257.html

Democratic Houston vs. Republican Houston 

The distinguished and influential New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, published a commentary the week Hurricane Harvey devastated the City of Houston.

Zoning: Both Sides Get It WrongBy Paul Krugman  
The disaster in Houston is partly Mother Nature — natural disasters will happen sometimes whatever we did — but with a powerful assist from human action. Climate change definitely made such an event more likely; beyond that, Houston’s total lack of zoning, complete failure to limit the amount of land paved over, made it much more vulnerable than sheer geography required. 
But this isn’t a simple parable where hostility to government intervention is the villain. In general, I have contempt for “both sides” arguments; given the corruption of modern American conservatism, on most issues there is a huge asymmetry between left and right. When it comes to land use policies, it really is true that both sides get it wrong. 
Having no zoning, no control, can be disastrous — which is what we’re seeing in Houston now. But all too many blue states end up, in practice, letting zoning be a tool, not of good land use, but of NIMBYism, preventing the construction of new housing.
In fact, liberal (in the non-political sense) land use policy is probably the secret behind Texas economic growth: the state doesn’t offer high wages, but it does offer cheap housing even in huge metro areas. Compare real housing price evolution over the decades in Houston and San Francisco . 
. .
See Original Article: https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/zoning-both-sides-get-it-wrong/

The problem with Mr. Krugman's analysis as with nearly all analyses based on generalizations about so-called red Republican areas and so-called Blue Democratic areas is that, as I said at the top, God (or the devil) is in the details. What Mr. Krugman calls "NIMBYism" only applies to places where the well-to-do live. Alas, when it comes to "the little people" in a gentrifying working class city like Inglewood where the Democrats can always sell the idea that stadiums mean jobs for those po' little oppressed "People of Color" (POVs) -- the bipartisan "Houstonization" marches on.

Important Relevant Links: 

The Uplift Inglewood Coalition: http://www.upliftinglewood.org
Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles: https://www.facebook.com/blmla/
Center for International Environmental Law: http://www.ciel.org/

See CIEL Statement: 

Green Groups Oppose Amendments to SB488 (Bradford)

August 22, 2017

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Defending Science is a Priority for ALL. not just Scientists.

While there are multiple drivers for the current war on science; an anti-science media, religious ideologies, postmodern fuzziness; but it should be enlightening to look at the ways in which those on the political left and right have decided which science to challenge and which to accept. As we know more about the universe that we live in, it is increasingly difficult to know enough to make rational decisions about anything scientific. It has just become too complex.

As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nicholas Murray Butler defined an expert, "someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about nothing". In that final sense, we are all scientific experts.

The attacks of the anti-vaxers on the left: citing relatively fringe authorities, some even having been soundly debunked, claiming government collusion, relying on anecdotal evidence; are very much like those from the climate deniers on the right. They use the same tactics. There is an anti-authoritarian element in that neither believes the government nor government funded studies. There is a difference in that progressives tend to be convinced the industry lies about everything to make a bigger profit while the climate denying conservative tends to support the industrial technology that promises them more jobs and says that it will all be OK.

That is an oversimplification. But these difference prevent science becoming a partisan agenda item for the Democratic Party and thus it is not part of our national discourse. We need a new focus on science and that will require a new way of examining these issues. As a Green, perhaps even a Deep Green, I feel that it should be done through an ecological lens. Need to think about this a bit more and see where that applies. I know it does to pollution (a left issue in general) and to GMO use (an anathema to most of the left.)