Tag: SB 743

Draft EIR of Sacramento Kings Arena Released

On December 16, 2013, the city of Sacramento released the notice of availability of its draft EIR for the new downtown Sacramento Kings arena. The analysis, promulgated pursuant to SB 743, analyzes the arena’s anticipated environmental impacts related to noise, traffic, and air quality, among other effects. The city will be required to implement mitigation measures for any significant impacts.

The “Entertainment and Sports Center” project site covers a 6-square-block area bordered by 3rd and 7th Streets on the west and east, and J and L Streets on the north and south. The project includes demolition of up to 857,943 square feet of the existing Downtown Plaza buildings and their underground parking garages, and construction of a 780,000-square-foot, 17,500-seat NBA arena and up to 1.5 million square feet of office, retail, housing, and hotel uses at the site. Project developers also plan to use the site for “major entertainment and civic events.” The center will replace the Sleep Train Arena in north Natomas as the home arena of the Kings.

The EIR focuses its analysis on 13 issues, including light and glare, noise and vibration, and transportation and circulation. The issues range from localized concerns – e.g., the change in demand for public utilities such as electricity demand and wastewater collection facilities – to broader concerns like contribution to climate change. The analysis evaluates a range of project alternatives, including different locations for the arena. Woven into this discussion are a number of “areas of controversy” identified by public comment letters that were received during the notice of preparation, such as the management of traffic coming in from the freeway, and the availability of onsite and offsite parking.

The EIR’s 45-day public comment period runs from December 16, 2013 through January 31, 2014. A public EIR workshop will be held Wednesday, December 18th at 6 p.m. in the City Hall lobby, and a public hearing to take comments on the draft EIR is set for 5:30 p.m. on January 23, 2014 in the City Council Chambers.

Governor signs SB 743, the “Kings Arena” CEQA bill

Signed by Governor Brown on September 27, 2013, Senate Bill (SB) 743 includes streamlining provisions to help expedite judicial review of the proposed downtown Sacramento Kings arena. The bill also affects judicial review of environmental leadership projects and procedural requirements for certain infill projects.

The bill lays out requirements for the proposed arena such as carbon-neutral operation which, if met, subject any CEQA challenges to a 270-day resolution timeframe and new rules of court. Snags may arise if the new court rules are not adopted by July 1, 2014, or if litigation precedes that date.

“Environmental leadership projects,” which are projects satisfying particular requirements related to state investment, job creation, and greenhouse gas emissions, qualify for the same 270-day resolution under the bill. SB 743 also extends by six months the period in which to obtain certification for one of these projects, so more projects may receive certification by the new deadline of December 30, 2015.

With SB 743, infill projects in transit priority areas – those near rail stations and other transportation terminals – will no longer have to account for aesthetic and parking impacts under CEQA when undergoing review, since such impacts are no longer considered significant, although any relevant local policies would still need to be considered. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research is tasked with creating guidelines for assessing transportation impacts within priority areas.