San Francisco’s Rubber Stamp Approval of Arena Project Ignored Laws: Prop. M Laws on Office Space Allocations, Use of Public Subsidies for Transportation Improvements
San Francisco – Opponents of the proposed Golden State Warriors arena in Mission Bay–including the mother of a critically ill child dependent on the UCSF Children’s Hospital for emergency care–have filed another lawsuit seeking to relocate the proposed entertainment complex. Download a copy of the lawsuit here.
The lawsuit argues that San Francisco city officials violated a number of San Francisco zoning laws when they approved the proposed development, ignoring office space allocation caps and the process to administer public subsidies for private development, among others.
“The City of San Francisco, in its zeal to approve this ill-conceived sports arena, brazenly ignored a number of its own laws designed to protect local communities and keep tabs on the use of taxpayer dollars,” said Bruce Spaulding of the Mission Bay Alliance. “This lawsuit seeks to require the Warriors’ ownership to follow the same rules and procedures that apply to everyone else – without any special treatment at the expense of public interest.”
Violated Prop M
Attorneys for the Mission Bay Alliance say the City of San Francisco violated Proposition M – a voter-sponsored initiative that created the first annual limit on high-rise development in the country – when it approved more than 600,000 square feet of office space for the two office towers located within the Mission Bay arena complex. The City created loopholes in the process mandated by the voters for allocating office space to the Warriors arena.
Proposition M was approved by San Francisco voters in 1986 to limit the amount of office space that could be approved by the City to 950,000 square feet each year. The intent behind this law was to close “loopholes” that allowed run-away office development and the “Manhattanization” of San Francisco without the additional community elements, such as housing and transportation, to support it.
Violated Rules on Public Subsidies
The lawsuit, filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, also alleges the City violated rules regarding the use of public subsidies when it authorized $64 million in capital expenditures to support transportation upgrades that would serve the arena. Of this expense, only $19.2 million would be paid for by project-generated impact fees.
The balance would be covered by the San Francisco General Fund and the issuance of revenue bonds on the taxpayer’s dime.
Yet redirecting General Fund revenues and issuing bonds require special procedures to secure public buy-in – none of which were followed for this arena development project, according to the suit.
“The City violated its own process in the haste to approve an arena that Mayor Ed Lee has labeled his ‘legacy project,’” said Mission Bay Alliance attorney Tom Lippe. “The Mission Bay Alliance is asking that the City apply its zoning laws to the owners of the Warriors as it would to any other developer .”
The Mission Bay Alliance has long argued that Mayor Lee and San Francisco officials rushed the approval process and denied the public meaningful participation or independent review when it approved an 18,050-seat basketball arena directly across from the brand-new UCSF hospital campus.
According to the Alliance, the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not properly considering alternative locations for the arena and by failing to adequately address the project’s environmental impacts, such as traffic, air quality, and noise.
The consequences of these oversights could cost lives. Parents fear that game-time traffic to the Warriors arena, located 1,000 feet from UCSF Children’s Hospital, could block life-saving care — a potentially fatal outcome that the City’s Environmental Impact Report shockingly fails to adequately address. Jennifer Wade, the mother of a child who relies on UCSF’s life-saving care, has joined the Mission Bay Alliance in this action.
About the Mission Bay Alliance
The Mission Bay Alliance was founded by former UCSF administrators, donors, faculty, physicians and the working men and women 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. For more information about the Mission Bay Alliance, visit www.missionbayalliance.org.