Lawsuit seeks to block proposed Clippers arena

June 21, 2018

By Dennis J. Freeman

Contributing Writer

INGLEWOOD — The dispute between the city and some of its residents has worsened now that members of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition have filed a lawsuit against the city.

The legal complaint, filed June 19 on behalf of Public Counsel with assistance from law firm Cozen O’Connor and the Public Interest Law Project, claims the Los Angeles Clippers and Inglewood are in violation of state law with their proposed agreement to put the NBA team in the city as its permanent home.

The issue is that the 59-acre parcel should have been allocated for affordable public housing instead of being contracted to a private entity, the Clippers. During a June 19 media teleconference, Antonio Hicks, a senior staffer at Public Counsel, outlined the details of the lawsuit.

“We filed the lawsuit on behalf of Uplift Inglewood Coalition against the city of Inglewood,” Hicks said. “We are alleging that the city of Inglewood violated the Surplus Land Act by entering into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Murphy’s Bowl, a representative of the Los Angeles Clippers, to sell publicly owned land for an NBA basketball arena. The Surplus Land Act was created to prioritize the development of affordable housing on land the government no longer needs.

“The Surplus Land Act requires cities and counties to notify certain government agencies and affordable housing developers whenever there is surplus land available for affordable housing, parks and open space or schools. Cities and counties must do this before selling surplus land. The city of Inglewood did not follow procedures mandated by the Surplus Land Act and that is why we’re asking a court to invalidate the [agreement] with the Clippers,” Hicks added.

Inglewood resident Sara Santos has seen her rent greatly affected by the development of the NFL stadium in the city. An NBA area erected in Inglewood would simply drive her and other residents out of the city, she said.

Santos worries that because of the hefty price tag of the Los Angeles Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park and now a proposed agreement the city has with the Los Angeles Clippers to build a state-of-the-art NBA arena, she won’t be able to afford to live in the city too much longer.

“I love my city, but I am terrified that I will be kicked out because my rent keeps going up every year,” Santos said via teleconference. “Since the construction of the new Rams stadium, my rent has increased $300 with only a two-month notice to stay or quit. I have witnessed many families in my building move out because they can’t afford it.

“I am now paying over 60 percent of my income on rent,” Santos added. “The city claims that they’re helping the community by creating new jobs, but these jobs are low-wage, seasonal jobs and they won’t be enough to cover the cost of rent once the Clippers’ arena is built. The city is already experiencing a housing crisis and the arena will only make it worse.”

No one from City Hall or the Clippers could be reached for comment on the suit.

Santos has joined forces with other residents who are trying to push back on the idea of the Clippers erecting a new home in Inglewood at their expense.

Willie Curry III, who is part of Uplift Inglewood Coalition, is one of those residents expressing opposition to the basketball arena.

“Our city has been moving in the wrong direction,” Curry said. “While new outside investments pour in, countless, longstanding residents are finding that they no longer can afford to live in a community they’ve called home for so long.

“We’re talking about the families, residents and working people that have been sustaining and investing in this community long before it caught the attention of billionaire developers and professional sports franchises. Already, the human toll of displacement has begun.”

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