‘It simply does not make any sense to prioritize an NBA arena’

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Inglewood residents say they’ve scored a victory in their efforts to stop the construction of a Clippers arena on public land.

A Los Angeles County Superior judge issued a ruling today that will allow their lawsuit over the arena to proceed to trial. Residents are trying to stop construction by arguing that under the California Surplus Land Act, the land should have been shopped around as an affordable housing development site before it was ever eyed for an NBA arena.

“Today’s ruling is a step forward for our neighbors in Inglewood who are simply asking the city of Inglewood to follow California’s affordable housing laws,” says D’artagnan Scorza of Uplift Inglewood. “It simply does not make any sense to prioritize an NBA arena over the needs of Inglewood residents. Public land should be used for the public good.”

Last year, the Inglewood City Council entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Murphy’s Bowl, a Clippers-owned company, to build a new basketball arena on 22 acres of vacant city-owned land.

Attorneys for the residents say that Inglewood neglected to solicit proposals for affordable housing for the site before entering into an agreement to use the land for the arena.

But Inglewood Mayor James Butts has said that affordable housing was never an option for this property because it sits in LAX’s flight path and had been “deemed incompatible for housing.”

The property sits across the street from the under-construction, nearly $3 billion NFL stadium and the site of more than 200 acres slated to become a whole new neighborhood adjacent to the stadium, complete with a hotel, housing, retail, and park space.

The stadium isn’t yet complete but already Inglewood residents have felt the pressure that comes with having hot new attractions in the neighborhood, most visibly in the form of city-wide rising rents and increased evictions. Inglewood does not have rent control, though last month the city did enact a temporary measure to limit rent hikes and stop evictions.

The lawsuit also claims that Inglewood is ignoring additional state affordable housing laws that mandate that certain amounts of low-income housing be constructed within the city. Uplift Inglewood wants to compel the city to meet those thresholds and build more affordable units in Inglewood. The trial is set to move forward in September.

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