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Door Opens For Public Comment On Proposed NFL Downtown Stadium

About 100 people showed up Wednesday for the first chance to weigh in on a proposal to build a $1 billion NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

The so-called scoping meeting was hosted by the city’s Planning Department in a conference room at the Los Angeles Convention Center, a portion of which would be torn down and rebuilt to accommodate the proposed stadium.

Attendees were allowed to submit written comments about what should be included in an environmental impact report for Farmers Field and the reconstructed convention center.

City planners and the environmental firm that will research and draft the EIR for the project were also on hand to talk with people about traffic and pedestrian impacts.

The first official invitation for public comments marked the beginning of a long process the city must go through to ensure the project is in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Despite the size and profile of the project, the EIR will be relatively uncomplicated, according to Hadar Plafkin, the planning department’s project manager for the proposal.

“The primary issues here are going to be traffic, parking management and air quality,” Plafkin said. “I don’t have any endangered species on sight. I don’t have a river running through it. It’s a classic infill project as opposed to an environmental project out in the mountains that are cutting down 3,000 oak trees or moving 20 million cubic yards of dirt.”

Noise and artificial light are some of the other key issues that will be analyzed in depth in the EIR, according to Bruce Lackow, project manager for Matrix Environmental, the consulting firm the city hired to prepare the EIR.

“I’m in favor of the field,” said Carmen Vaughn, who attended the meeting and serves on the Pico-Union Neighborhood Council.

She said she was not concerned about traffic. Vaughn is a neighbor of LA Live and said she thinks traffic management is fine now and was fine during the construction of the complex.

“Sometimes, yeah, it’s hard. But, hey, we live in the city. If you don’t want to see those things, go in the mountains,” she said. “We are in the city, and the city needs jobs.’

A small group of activists from the Bus Riders Union was on hand to express concern about the project.

“It’s clear that when this project is built, it’s going to change the demographics and rent of this area, driving out communities who have historically lived here,” Gabriel Strachota, a BRU organizer, said. “We also don’t necessarily believe this is truly a green project and will be good for the environment.”

Last Friday, Anschutz Entertainment Group — the developer behind the L.A. Live complex and the stadium proposal — hired Los Angeles-based Gensler architects to come up with a design for the 64,000-seat stadium, which would take shape next to Staples Center.

Copyright © 2011 City News Service

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