March 6, 2014
There’s been standing room only for Kings’ games, but Thursday was the first standing room only crowd for those who want to get in the game of building a new throne for Sacramento’s NBA team.
They’re contractors – passionate about what they do.
We have reached the extortion phase of our program.
Principled, albeit misguided, opposition to the downtown arena has been replaced by people with outstretched hands in search of cash – lots of it.
They want millions of dollars and are going about it in a time-tested way in our state – by using the California Environmental Quality Act as cover for a shakedown.
Concerned the downtown arena does too much to benefit the Sacramento Kings and not enough to benefit the city itself, the Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity has filed a lawsuit against the environmental impact report for the project.
Attorney Don Mooney, who filed the suit Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court, said issues such as traffic and housing just didn't get the attention in the EIR that they deserve.
"This was a last recourse," he said.
Rebuffed by a judge, opponents claiming the city of Sacramento gave the Kings a "secret subsidy" for the new downtown arena vowed Friday to continue pressing their lawsuit.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by three citizens challenging the arena term sheet approved by the City Council last year. His reasoning: The term sheet wasn't binding. Frawley had indicated a day earlier he was going to toss out the suit.
The citizens' lawyers, Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson, said they will amend the suit, this time targeting the binding, definitive agreement the council approved Tuesday. The agreement calls for a $255 million public subsidy for the new arena at Downtown Plaza.
With the downtown arena approved at last, progress can go from documents and blueprints to cranes and big equipment. Here are the next benchmarks to look for:
By the end of May: Preliminary demolition to begin on eastern end of Downtown Plaza
July: Visible demolition of mall to begin. No public event scheduled as of yet.
Sheila Finch is a survivor of the K Street experiment. She owns Alley Cuts hair salon, just across Seventh Street from Downtown Plaza.
Bites talked to her just days ahead of the final vote on the Kings arena plan and the beginning of demolition of the mall. The city still hadn't contacted Finch about how the arena work would impact her business. Nothing about street closures, or foot traffic, or dust and debris. "No communication at all," she said.
Finch's neighbor Mike Doyle, who owns the watch-repair shop next door, was frustrated, too. "They haven't been telling us anything. Just some basic information would help us prepare."
With City Council approval behind them, the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday launched what they say will be a fast-track effort to build a modern arena in the heart of downtown Sacramento. But, as has been the pattern in Sacramento's long-running and convoluted arena drama, the team and city may yet have a hurdle to jump. A small group of deal opponents says it is organizing what appears to be a late-hour effort to stop the project.
Local attorneys Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson say they hope to form a political action committee in the next few days and launch their own fast-track project: a petition drive to bring the city arena subsidy to the voters. The city, they say, ignored the will of the people.
It was unclear on Wednesday what the group would need to do to put the arena deal on the ballot, or whether it even has the right to petition for a vote on the $477 million deal for a new arena at Downtown Plaza. City officials and an election law expert said their reading of state election law shows opponents have very little room to mount a challenge.
On the eve of the pivotal vote for a new downtown Sacramento arena, a group critical of the plan issued a final broadside against it before the City Council is expected to approve it tomorrow night.
Watchdog group Eye on Sacramento released a 34-page report Monday that found flaws in several different areas of the plan, including financial risk to the city, traffic impacts, poor long-term city planning and, perhaps most egregiously in the group's eyes, lack of a public vote for the project.
"Sacramento is facing difficult times ahead as this report describes," the report's authors state in its executive summary. "Sacramento's triumph over nonresponsive, reckless and arrogant government will come not from government itself or media, but from Sacramento voters who must reclaim control of their own government."
The Sacramento Planning and Design Commission gave the proposed downtown arena a green light Thursday night. With a unanimous vote, the board recommended approval to the City Council both for the arena and entitlements for surrounding development.
Coming after more than four hours of presentations, public comments and debate, the commission didn't recommend separating the surrounding development from the arena itself, as some speakers representing union groups suggested.
Commissioners seemed inclined to support assertions by city of Sacramento staff and representatives from the Sacramento Kingsthat such development would still get a full public vetting.