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Judge rules lawsuit trying to prevent Clippers from building arena in Inglewood can move forward

INGLEWOOD, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2018: A view of the vacant land and site of the proposed Cli
A view of the parcel of land for the proposed Clippers arena project in Inglewood, not far from the new NFL stadium construction (background).
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a lawsuit contesting the arena the Clippers want to build in Inglewood can proceed.

Uplift Inglewood, a community group that advocates for affordable housing, alleged in a lawsuit filed last June that Inglewood’s exclusive negotiating agreement with a Clippers-controlled company, Murphy’s Bowl LLC, to pursue the arena violates the state’s Surplus Land Act.

The regulation mandates that public agencies give first preference to using surplus land for affordable housing, recreation and schools.

Murphy’s Bowl and Inglewood agreed in June 2017 to explore constructing a privately financed arena on 22 acres of empty, city-owned land along West Century Boulevard.

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Judge Mary H. Strobel rejected attempts by Inglewood and Murphy’s Bowl to dismiss the action, including arguments that the act hasn’t been triggered because the city still owns the property.

“Therefore, the transfer of the property cannot be the triggering event for the agency’s mandatory duty of notice and negotiations,” Strobel wrote. “Otherwise, the SLA would be unenforceable.”

The trial is set for Sept. 24.

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“Today’s ruling is a step forward for our neighbors … who are simply asking the City of Inglewood to follow California’s affordable housing laws,” D’Artagnan Scorza, an Inglewood resident representing Uplift Inglewood, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the project, which is under environmental review, said the team is looking forward to prevailing at trial.

The Clippers have a lease to play at Staples Center through the 2023-24 season.

nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno


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