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Court of Appeal Allows Sacramento Kings Arena To Move Forward

In a published decision (Saltonstall v. City of Sacramento), the Third District of the California Court of Appeal rejected both constitutional challenges to the special statute passed to streamline the City of Sacramento’s CEQA review of the new Kings arena and the project opponents appeal of the trial court’s denial of a preliminary injunction to halt the project.  This is the first appellate decision concerning the constitutionality of project-specific CEQA streamlining statutes, setting a valuable precedent for other projects.

To facilitate the approval and construction of a new entertainment and sports complex to serve as the home of the National Basketball Association Kings franchise, the Legislature approved S.B. 743 (codified as Public Resources Code section 21168.6.6), which establishes an abbreviated schedule for the hearing of CEQA challenges to the arena project.  Section 21168.6.6 also provides a heightened burden for the granting of an injunction to halt construction of the arena.  Project opponents argued that both provisions of section 21168.6.6 unconstitutionally violated the separation of powers doctrine by intruding on the inherent powers of the courts.  The Third District rejected both arguments, holding that neither the expedited schedule nor the heightened factors for injunctive relief posed an unconstitutional infringement on the power of the courts.  Applying the section 21168.6.6 tests for injunctive relief in this case, the Court of Appeal also held that the project opponents had failed to meet their burden showing that injunctive relief was appropriate.   

The decision will allow project construction to continue.  While the instant appeal was before the Third District, the trial court rejected the opponent’s CEQA challenges on the merits.  The appeal of that decision is currently pending.  Meyers Nave is representing the City of Sacramento in this lawsuit and will continue to provide updates as the litigation progresses.