By Rick Archer
Law360, New York (October 13, 2016, 7:08 PM EDT) — A coalition of environmental groups has filed an amicus curiae brief in a California state appellate court opposing plans for a new $1 billion arena for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in San Francisco’s Mission Bay area, saying the environmental impact statement was inadequate.
In an Oct. 3 brief supporting an appeal filed by two civic groups opposed to the project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment and Sunset Coalition claimed the report omitted important information on greenhouse gas emissions and used outdated standards to play down health effects.
“The city simply failed to ‘show its work’ in claiming that this huge project will not producea single additional ton of climate pollution,” John Buse, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a news release Thursday. “There’s simply no quantitative evidence that the arena won’t contribute to our growing climate crisis.”
In July, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong rejected an attempt by the Mission Bay Alliance and SaveMuni to stop the new arena and multi-use entertainment complex, saying the city’s environmental review process for the site was sound. The groups had raised concerns about traffic, air quality and noise given its location in the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan area near the new Mission Bay medical center of the University of California, San Francisco.
The civic groups then filed the appeal, claiming the proposed stadium’s environmental impact report violates the California Environmental Quality Act for not properly considering alternative locations and failing to adequately assess potential impacts on traffic, air quality and noise.
The environmental groups agreed, saying the report does not quantify greenhouse gas emissions from the development or provide evidence for its claims of “net zero” emissions. The groups also claimed the report uses 2003 California Environmental Protection Agency guidelines to gauge the health risk for patients and residents at the medical center when the agency’s 2010 guidelines show a much greater risk.
“For example, risk for a child resident of the Hearst Tower from project-related sources would increase 71 percent, from 18 to 31 excess cancers, if current information on breathing rates is considered,” the brief said.
In an email Thursday, Mary Murphy, an attorney for GSW Arena LLC, said the report’s greenhouse gas analysis used a method endorsed by the California Supreme Court in another case, and that the brief’s argument on the air pollution guidelines was rejected in Enviro Groups Call Report On $1B Warriors Arena Inadequate – Law360 Page 1 of 2 https://www.law360.com/articles/851151/print?section=sports 10/14/2016 Los Angeles Superior Court in another case.
“The amicus brief repeats arguments that Mission Bay Alliance has already made, that the trial court has already rejected, and that we expect the Court of Appeal to reject as well,” she said.
Counsel for the city and county Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. The environmental groups are represented by Jan Chatten-Brown, Douglas P. Carstens, Josh Chatten-Brown and Michelle Black of Chatten-Brown & Carstens.
Mission Bay and SaveMuni are represented by Susan Brandt-Hawley and Skyla Olds of Brandt-Hawley Law Group, Thomas N. Lippe of the Law Offices of Thomas N. Lippe, and Patrick M. Soluri and Osha R. Meserve of Soluri Meserve. GSW Arena LLC is represented by Daniel M. Kolkey and Mary Murphy of Gibson Dunn. San Francisco is represented by John Malamut and Brian Crossman of the Office of the City Attorney.
The Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure is represented by Tina A. Thomas and Christopher J. Butcher of Thomas Law Group. The consolidated appeals case is Mission Bay Alliance et. al. v. Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure et. al., case number A148865, in the Court of Appeal for the State of California First Appellate District, Division 3.
–Additional reporting by Juan Carlos Rodriguez. Editing by Catherine Sum.