LA Clippers arena clears major hurdle as judge throws out lawsuit by Inglewood residents group
Clippers vs. Mavericks: 3 trends to watch in their NBA playoff series Clippers see room to improve vs. Mavericks in Game 2 Clippers’ rhythm is missing but their spirits strong before playoff opener Clippers mindful of Mavericks’ role players thriving in the bubble ‘Frustrating Catch-22’“This backward interpretation effectively guts the Surplus Land Act by only requiring localities to prioritize public land for affordable housing development once there is already a contract for sale in place on that piece of land — a frustrating Catch-22,” they said.The court’s decision clears a major roadblock for the Clippers project, which has been tied up by numerous lawsuits since it was announced. The Madison Square Garden Co., owners of the Forum concert venue, sued Inglewood almost immediately, alleging Butts tricked executives into giving up the land — which the Forum used for parking — through deception.The Forum’s owners believe the arena, which would be a direct competitor at nearby Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, is incompatible with the area because of the the traffic and parking needs already generated by the Forum and the new NFL stadium. That lawsuit is still pending.Butts has denied MSG’s allegations. He argues the Prairie Avenue corridor has always been traffic heavy because of the swarms of visitors to the closed Hollywood Park racetrack and the Forum.Uplift Inglewood, a group founded to fight the rising costs of living in the city, has indirectly received financial support from MSG, according to a court filing. However, Uplift denies their lawsuit is funded by the company.The agreement between the city and the Clippers potentially includes $100 million in community benefits, including $75 million for up to 400 affordable housing units, rent relief and first-time home buyer assistance. City officials say the 18,500-seat arena will generate 8,500 jobs and yield $190 million in tax revenues over the next 25 years.The Clippers project is still waiting on fast-track approval through the state’s environmental review process from the California Air Resources Board. The two sides have been unable to agree on the necessary environmental mitigations.Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Uplift Inglewood indirectly received financial support from Madison Square Garden.Related Articles Inglewood was not required to offer affordable housing developers the first right to land proposed for a $1.2 billion Los Angeles Clippers arena, a Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.Judge Daniel Murphy denied the lawsuit filed by the citizens group Uplift Inglewood Coalition a day after hearing legal arguments from both sides. The group alleged city officials violated California’s Surplus Land Act, a law requiring cities to prioritize affordable housing when selling off public land, by entering into exclusive negotiations with the Clippers.Murphy sided with Inglewood’s argument that the land was not “surplus” because the city’s intended use for the property — for economic development and aircraft noise mitigation — was consistent with the state law. Inglewood purchased the properties with $120 million grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and LAX. The grant discourages residential uses and required Inglewood to relocate residents from the land originally.“Under these circumstances, the City did not abuse its discretion in determining the Property remains ‘necessary for the agency’s use’ and is not surplus land,” Murphy wrote in his ruling. Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell credits his grandmother for his love of basketball Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Even if the land had qualified under the Surplus Land Act, the ongoing negotiations with the Clippers haven’t been finalized and could still fall apart, according to the ruling. Negotiations alone are not sufficient “evidence of an intent to sell the property,” Murphy wrote.‘Tremendous victory’Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. called the ruling a “tremendous victory” in a statement.“The people of Inglewood have time and again stood up for, testified for, and voted in favor of this project,” Butts stated. “It would have been a travesty to allow a few malcontents to sabotage so much prosperity for this community.”Attorneys for Uplift Inglewood issued a joint statement saying the decision gives the city a pass at a time when California is dealing with a housing and homelessness crisis. The exclusive negotiating agreement with the Clippers included a $1.5 million payment to the city and has penalties for termination. Once the city sells the land, the Surplus Land Act is clear that it cannot reverse such a decision.The attorneys from three firms — Cozen O’Connor, Public Counsel and the Public Interest Law Project — questioned how the judge could rule that Inglewood can still negotiate “in good faith” with affordable housing developers, while legally bound to only negotiate with the Clippers.