SoCal city vote clears NFL stadium hurdle

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The city of Industry approved a settlement Thursday with a neighboring city that had opposed plans for an $800 million NFL stadium, clearing a hurdle in efforts to bring a pro football team to the Los Angeles area.

The deal approved unanimously by the Industry City Council grants the city of Walnut $9 million, an annual cash payment of up to $500,000 and other concessions, Industry City Manager Kevin Radecki said.

"We are extremely pleased that the city of Walnut, the city of Industry and the developer have been able to reach an agreement for this project that will create jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic benefits for this region," Industry Mayor David Perez said in a joint statement with Walnut officials.

Walnut council members, who had claimed in the city's lawsuit that Industry approved the project without sufficiently reviewing its environmental impact, had voted 3-to-1 to approve the deal Tuesday.

The deal also requires developers to pay for noise monitoring around the stadium and prohibits loud events after 10 p.m.

Walnut Mayor Mary Su said in the statement that negotiations "achieved a settlement that contains important mitigations and protections for citizens of Walnut."

The agreement was reached during negotiations mandated by the Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who postponed a vote on a bill last week that would have granted the 75,000-seat venue an environmental exemption and let its construction move forward.

The Assembly approved the plan amid lobbying by stadium developer Majestic Realty Co. and labor union officials who argued that the venue's construction and operation would bring jobs to the region suffering from high unemployment.

Walnut Councilman Joaquin Lim, who had voted no on the deal, criticized state legislators for bending to the developer's wishes by interfering with the ongoing legal proceedings.

"It's a sad day, not just for Walnut, not just for the region, but for the entire state of California," he said. "It really states a terrible precedent for the future."

Meanwhile, members of a Walnut citizens' group that had filed a separate lawsuit over the stadium said their talks with Industry and developer Majestic Realty Co. broke down with no settlement agreement Wednesday.

Group member Bridget Bjerke said its negotiating partners were being inflexible.

"It was pretty much giving us these little teeny things, but the main areas of our concern which we brought up in our lawsuit - the quality of life issues of traffic noise, safety and water - for the most part they said, 'Nope, we can't do that."

John Van de Kamp, a former California attorney general who served as the talks' mediator, said confidentiality agreements bar him from discussing specifics behind the breakdown.

But he said he believed the agreement with the city of Walnut addressed many of their concerns over impacts such as traffic and light from the venue.

Steinberg spokesman Jim Evans said that the state Senate would likely vote on the environmental waiver for the project if no settlement is reached, but that no vote would take place until the chamber reconvenes in mid-October.

Majestic managing partner John Semcken said he remains hopeful for some agreement with the group.

"Hopefully we'll be able to make them happy," he said. "We tried very hard."

He said his company was waiting for all legal hurdles to be cleared before it began contacting teams about moving to the proposed stadium, about 15 miles east of Los Angeles.


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