7 January 2016
San Francisco’s Rubber Stamp Approval of Arena Project Ignored Crippling Traffic and other Environmental Impacts in Violation of California Environmental Laws
Jennifer Wade, Mother of Six-Year-Old Boy with Severe Heart Condition, Fears Arena Will Block Access to UCSF Children’s Hospital, Cost Lives
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 a lawsuit seeking to block the proposed location of the Warriors arena project.
Filed Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court, the lawsuit argues that San Francisco city officials violated 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.
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.
“My family depends on having ready access to USCF Hospital,” said Jennifer Wade, a San Francisco resident whose six-year-old son, Magnus, was born with a congenital heart defect. “It deeply concerns me that San Francisco officials would approve an arena location that could jeopardize access to this critical care.”
Despite the dangers, Mayor Lee and San Francisco officials rushed the approval process and denied the public meaningful participation or independent review. When the city published its Final Environmental Impact Report on October 23, 2015, it gave members of the public just 10 days to review 2,500 new pages of information before finalizing the document.
In their haste, City officials decided to conduct no review of issues like land use, biological resources, geology, or hazardous materials — instead relying on the analysis from obsolete environmental documents prepared in 1998 for the Mission Bay Redevelopment Plan, according to the lawsuit.
“The City has avoided a thorough analysis of the project by relying on environmental review documents from 18 years ago,” said Osha Meserve, an attorney representing the Mission Bay Alliance. “This strategy not only deprives the public of knowing the arena’s true impact — it violates CEQA’s core requirements.”
The development of the Mission Bay neighborhood took more than 20 years and was the result of a collaboration by the City, UCSF and local civic and political leaders in the 1990s to transform abandoned rail yards into a hub for medical and biotechnology development. Today, UCSF’s state-of-the-art campus and its Medical Center contribute to San Francisco’s now thriving $4 billion bioscience industry.
“This project directly conflicts with the good city planning that has led to the spectacular growth in Mission Bay and the creation of San Francisco’s bioscience industry that is now the envy of the world,” said Mission Bay Alliance Board member, Jeanne Robertson, who served as Chairman of the UCSF Foundation and helped found UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. “It is critical that we stop this harmful project and protect future generations from a shortsighted plan that would destroy the thoughtful vision of past administrations.”
In fact, UCSF and nearby biotech companies are still growing, but the proposed Warriors’ arena would all but kill that growth. This is apparently a risk that Mayor Ed Lee is willing to accept in order to hastily approve a basketball arena that he has called his “legacy project,” according to the suit.
The lawsuit also accuses City officials of mischaracterizing the arena as “nighttime entertainment,” a category of development akin to a bar and restaurant. The categorization is meaningful, because it fast tracks the project and allows it to circumvent a voter referendum.
Dozens of concerned citizens spoke out against the arena project in a hearing before the Board of Supervisors on December 8, 2015, and hundreds more sent letters criticizing the project to the Board of Supervisors. Among its detractors are UCSF faculty members, staff and Children’s Hospital nurses who are concerned about traffic, patient care, and access to the emergency care center and prenatal facilities.
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.
Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP
Email: [email protected]