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Neighbors want more time to read up on Farmers Field, but officials say project must move forward

In this rendering released by AEG, the proposed football stadium to house a NFL team in Los Angeles is seen.
A rendering released by AEG of the proposed football stadium to house a NFL team in L.A. Officials are pushing the project forward, but locals want more time to think about the impact of Farmers Field.

With the window closing for public comment on the proposed Farmers Field stadium, community activists crowded into a meeting room at the Convention Center, in part with aim to push the window back open.

City officials confirmed that several groups had written in to ask for more time. On Wednesday afternoon, mayoral candidate Kevin James joined that chorus, saying he planned to ask for a 45-day extension for the public to get through the document. But senior city planner Jon Foreman said L.A. had no plans to do that.

Groups arrayed in favor of the project included the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the L.A. Business Council and several trade unions. Collectively they beat the drum for jobs and economics benefits to the city and the region.

Rocky Pellicino is business representative for the Sheet Metal Workers local 105. “Our vision is simple: jobs, revenue, opportunities,” he said. Valley Industry Commerce Association president Stuart Waldman noted out that the report analyzed 180 intersections and 45 freeway ramps in arguing that the planning would effectively pave the way for good traffic flow around the stadium.

From Skid Row, south Park and the historic core of downtown, more than a dozen Angelenos stood to tell city officials that the environmental impact report drafted by AEG underestimates the gentrification Farmers Field will bring to their neighborhoods. Those affiliated with the Los Angeles Community Action Network wore orange T-shirts and stickers reading “Play Fair at Farmers Field.”

Low-income resident Debra Burton said she fears being displaced. Like James, she argued that the environmental review fails to explain why AEG expects up to 20 percent of fans to leave their cars at home.

“They don’t have proof of that,” Burton told city planners. “It don’t reflect the experience of stadiums, the Staples center or any other football stadium in the country. Even where the transit system is much better than Los Angeles.“

That point was echoed by Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer David Pettit. He took part in the negotiations around SB 292, a state law that has given Farmers Field an expedited judicial review. Pettit said AEG made that law possible by promising to encourage people to use mass transit and bicycles to get to games.

“The other thing they promised is that the entire project including the stadium would be carbon neutral,” Pettit said. “I was disappointed to see that there was no analysis, zero, of any of the measures they might take to reach either of these goals."

Pettit’s colleague, Rosalyn Wang, suggested that AEG was capable of more than what it had promised in the way of clean and renewable energy. “AEG has made no commitments to use renewable or clean energy,” Wang said, arguing that doing so at Farmers Field would be both feasible and necessary. “AEG’s own Rose Garden Stadium in Portland uses 100 percent electricity from renewable sources,” she said.

The environmental lawyers spoke after Michael Griffith, who arrived resplendent in full Rams blue and gold, part of a group of fans who have turned out to support the stadium cause. Griffith pleaded with planners to push the project forward. He told them he was born in 1983, the moment that Mike Lansford kicked a game winning field goal to push the Rams over the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs.

“The thing that we need to be worried about is getting football back to Los Angeles,” he said. “Everything else is extracurricular.”