“Mr. Ballmer: Enjoy your team—but do not build your arena here.”
Former Sen. Barbara Boxer met Inglewood residents Thursday in the modest residential neighborhood that surrounds the site where the Clippers intend to erect a new arena, telling them: “I’m here to help.”
“If the arena is built, this community will change overnight,” Boxer said.
The retired senator rolled onto Doty Avenue—which offers a clear view of the massive NFL stadium rising one block to the north on Century Boulevard—in a Nissan Altima and was immediately surrounded by residents who fear the arena would further drive up housing prices.
The Inglewood City Council is negotiating with Murphy’s Bowl, a company owned by the Clippers, to develop a new basketball arena on a multi-acre site owned by the city. The 18,000-seat arena would be privately financed by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and would be built on a site bounded by Century, Doty, 103rd Street, and Prairie Avenue. Most of the land sits empty.
It would be part of a larger complex that also includes parking lots, a practice facility, team offices, shops, and an outdoor plaza with basketball courts that would be open to the public.
An earlier agreement had called for building the complex on a larger site—and using eminent domain to seize single-family homes and apartment buildings in the neighborhood.
That’s no longer the plan, and Mayor James Butts has tried to assure residents that they won’t be displaced. He has called the arena a “job-creating and revenue-generating project” that would provide “property taxes… that fund our schools.”
“I can’t wait for the Clippers to be part of Inglewood,” he said in June.
Residents, however, are skeptical.
Boxer walked a couple of blocks through the neighborhood, led by D’Artagnan Scorza, a member of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition.
“Once folks get displaced, there’s nowhere for them to go,” Scorza, who grew up in Inglewood and attended nearby Morningside High School, told her.
“I understand. There’s a housing crisis everywhere,” she responded.
Sara Santos, 30, who shares an apartment with her boyfriend and daughter on 104th Street, says she knows lots of people who are relocating to places like Lancaster because they can no longer afford Inglewood. Her rent, she says, has gone up by $400 in a year and a half.
“We can’t save for a downpayment. We have less money for food, utilities, and everything else,” Santos says.
Unlike the city of Los Angeles, Inglewood doesn’t have rent control or rent stabilization. Without it, landlords are allowed to hike rents by however much they want. An effort to put rent control on the ballot in Inglewood proved unsuccessful.
Santos works nearby at LAX, and she says she loves Inglewood for Market Street, its proximity to the beach, its restaurants—Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen and Hungry Joe’s Burgers & Jamaican Restaurant—and culture.
“When you to start to kick us out, the culture is gone,” she says.
As of July, the cost of renting in Inglewood is up 12.1 percent since the beginning of 2016, compared to 7.4 percent in all Los Angeles County, CoStar data shows.
Boxer told residents that she’ll support their fight against the arena and urged them to advocate against a state bill, AB 987, that would fast-track the arena by allowing it to skirt state environmental law. AB 987 is supported by Butts and Ballmer.
“Many rich guys have a dream to own a sports team. That’s fine, except if the dream turns into a nightmare for the community,” she said. “So I say to Mr. Ballmer: Enjoy your team—but do not build your arena here.”
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