Clippers plan to reduce traffic doesn’t go far enough, experts say

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The state’s climate agency has signed off on a plan to reduce carbon emissions generated by a potential Clippers arena in Inglewood. But some residents and environmental experts say the Clippers aren’t doing enough, with one calling the plan “pretty much a joke.”

The California Air Resources Board last week said it was satisfied with the mitigation plan, which calls for installing 1,350 electric vehicle charging stations, planting 1,000 trees, and purchasing carbon offset credits.

The determination is key to securing streamlining during the arena’s state-mandated environmental review, and the Clippers’ request will now be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom for final approval.

If the governor signs off on the request, any environmental lawsuits filed over the arena plans, as well as any lawsuits filed over the city’s potential approval of the plans, would have to be resolved in 270 days.

That would give the Clippers a leg up in their bid to build an 18,000-seat an NBA arena on 22 acres of city-owned land off Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, less than a half mile from the NFL stadium that will open in the summer.

Among other measures designed to encourage game-goers not to drive, the Clippers are also promising to provide direct shuttles from the downtown Inglewood stop on the future Crenshaw Line and the Green Line’s Hawthorne Station.

That plan has come under scrutiny from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Senior attorney David Pettit has called the the traffic management component “pretty much a joke.”

Other provisions include: providing 93 bike parking spaces, offering parking discounts to drivers who carpool, and ticket discounts to fans with TAP cards.

“How many people will want to get out of a game at 10 or 10:30 p.m. and get a shuttle to get on a train? That doesn’t seem very likely to me,” Pettit said. “People will probably just get in their cars that they park near the stadium and take off—and the people of Inglewood will have to breathe the exhaust.”

It’s not just the NRDC. In a letter to the state, Public Counsel said the traffic plan “does not contain any actual commitments to invest in traffic reduction.”

Inglewood resident Erika Pineda told the state: “Even if every car is an electric car—and they won’t be!—that would still create a nightmare of traffic for us.” And Inglewood resident Oscar Macedo said: “The impact of climate change is very damaging, and so is the pollution it will bring to our community, but this application does not take it very seriously.”

If the Clippers wanted to encourage more environmentally options, the owners would do more than provide charging stations; they would provide incentives for local residents to buy or lease electric cars and they would invest in additional or more robust bus lines, Petit said.

But the fundamental problem, he says, is that Clippers want to build in an area that he calls a “transit desert.” When the Crenshaw Line opens next year, it will bring three stations to Inglewood—but the nearest will be 1.8 miles away.

The Clippers expect the privately-financed arena to open in 2024, when the team’s lease at the Staples Center in Downtown LA expires.

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