(SAN FRANCISCO—November 16, 2016)—The California Court of Appeal First Appellate District is considering whether the city of San Francisco broke zoning and environmental laws in hastily approving a proposal for the Golden State Warriors’ owners to build a new arena in Mission Bay. The court heard oral arguments today from both sides in the case, which has been fast-tracked for a decision under AB 900.
In preparation for today’s hearing in Mission Bay Alliance (MBA) et al. vs. San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure et al., the Court provided the parties with a list of questions focusing on several specific issues, including:
- Whether the proposed Warriors’ arena in Mission Bay is allowed by the governing 1998 Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan and whether it was properly analyzed by the city’s environmental impact report (EIR) for the project.
The city has admitted the arena’s size and intensity was not previously studied and “would alter the overall land use character … from that analyzed” in the 1998 planning process. The city offered no analysis other than a memo prepared by staff to support its argument that a huge arena would not impact the character of Mission Bay.
“The proposed arena is vastly different in character from what the 1998 plan envisioned, and the city’s new environmental impact report must fully analyze every significant environmental impact,” said Patrick Soluri, an attorney for the Mission Bay Alliance and other plaintiffs in the case. “That has not yet happened as required by law.”
- Whether the city’s Transportation Management Plan (TMP) for the arena ensures elimination or reduction of unreasonable delays in boarding and overcrowding on regional transit carriers following large events.
In the response to the Court’s question, MBA attorneys explained that the TMP does not eliminate or reduce unreasonable delays. And, when arena events and Giants baseball games overlap, impacts will worsen, causing significant impacts on BART as well as other transit services. The TMP’s purpose was to increase reliance on transit, yet the Warriors were not required to pay for transit capacity increases to service the arena.
- Whether California Environmental Quality Act compels the city to quantify the proposed arena’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s hard to imagine that a 750,000-square-foot sports arena/event complex would have a net zero impact on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Douglas Carstens, counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. “By failing to reveal the GHG emissions of this massive project to the public, the city has attempted to skirt CEQA. The city ignores reality by pointing to a nonquantified cookbook greenhouse gas checklist in an attempt to show that a huge sports complex would have no impact on the environment,” said Carstens.
- Did the city apply scientifically outdated breathing rates in assessing toxic air contaminants from the proposed arena’s emissions thereby underestimating cancer risk for the children of Mission Bay?
“The city chose not to rely on updated breathing rate guidelines from the Office of Environmental Health Assessment finalized in February 2015, before release of the arena draft EIR,” said Osha Meserve, co-environmental counsel for MBA. “The new information showed a 186 percent increase in cancer risk for children from Warriors’ arena-related sources at the Benioff Children’s Hospital.” Meserve added, “By failing to use scientifically current information readily available from the state, the city avoided identifying cancer risk levels that would have triggered formulation of specific measures to reduce the cancer risk to children.”
The Court’s decision will impact whether the Warriors move to Mission Bay, stay in in their current home at Oracle Arena in Oakland, or seek a more suitable site in San Francisco.
About The Mission Bay Alliance
The Mission Bay Alliance was founded by former UCSF administrators, faculty, physicians, donors and public-spirited citizens of San Francisco who are concerned about the impact of the proposed Golden State Warriors’ stadium on the future of the vibrant community and medical campus at Mission Bay. The Alliance has joined a coalition of world-renowned scientists from UCSF and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the California Nurses Association in calling the proposed Warriors’ arena a “disaster” for Mission Bay.
The Mission Bay Alliance is joined in this litigation by Jennifer Wade, the mother of a child reliant on UCSF’s Children’s Hospital for the care of her son, and Save Muni, a nonprofit unincorporated association of transit activists, environmentalists, neighborhood leaders and citizens working for better Muni transit service throughout San Francisco
Among other supporters are leading environmental protection organizations including: the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, the Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment and the Sunset Coalition.
For information about the lawsuit or to arrange interviews, contact R&R Partners: Monica Bouldin at 310-321-3953 or David Weissman 602-670-7145.