Citing rising rents and a lack of affordable housing, a group of Inglewood residents have filed suit against the city, seeking to block the development of a controversial arena project for the Clippers.
The proposed arena is already the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Forum, a 17,500-capacity arena that sits less than two miles away from the site where Inglewood Mayor James Butts hopes to lure the NBA team away from their current home at Staples Center in downtown LA. In March, officials with Azoff MSG Entertainment, which owns and operates the Forum, filed suit against the city alleging the new home for the Clippers violated the city’s May 2012 development agreement (read it here) with MSG to rebuild the Forum into a concert venue. In response, Inglewood Mayor James Butts slammed the suit as a “dirty tricks campaign” and promised to take the fight head on, prompting some to wonder if Azoff MSG Chairman Irving Azoff had finally met his match.
Officials with MSG dismissed the Clippers from their lawsuit on May 2, but on May 18, the Clippers filed suit to be allowed back into the case, asserting a “judicial declaration of rights with respect to the matters in controversy between it and MSG Forum.”
Inglewood officials now face a second lawsuit from their own residents, who allege the city cares more about “billionaire sports owners” rather than “working class residents facing rapidly escalating housing costs.”
“Our city has been moving in the wrong direction,” Uplift Inglewood member Woodrow Curry III said in a press conference Tuesday, stating the city’s focus on the Forum, a new multi-billion stadium development project for the LA Rams and Chargers and now a new home to the Clippers comes at a steep price for local residents, who fear eventually being priced out of the market.
Residents with Uplift argue that the city violated the California Surplus Land Act, which requires municipalities like Inglewood that plan to sell or give away public land to first seek out proposals for affordable housing construction on the site. Attorneys for Uplift Inglewood say Inglewood skipped this step when it moved forward last year with plans for the basketball arena. They also allege that the city officials have missed multiple deadlines to develop affordable housing in compliance with state law and regional housing goals. According to the suit, Inglewood will need to add 567 units of housing affordable to residents earning very low to moderate incomes by 2021. Since the Forum opened in 2013, none of these units have been built in the city.
“This lawsuit is about more than a wonky housing violation,” said Public Counsel attorney Antonio Hicks at the press conference. “It’s about residents being forced out of their homes by skyrocketing housing costs.”