SAN FRANCISCO, July 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mission Bay Alliance, SaveMuni and Jennifer Wade, opponents of the proposed location of the controversial, proposed Golden State Warriors arena in Mission Bay, today took their case to the California Court of Appeal. A three-justice panel will now independently review claims that San Francisco public officials violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other laws in their zeal to approve an 18,000-seat sports arena and event center on a site that would displace and disrupt the vital, diverse and progressive community of Mission Bay and cause citywide environmental impacts.
"Such an important environmental matter will be ultimately decided in the Court of Appeal," said Osha Meserve, an environmental attorney for appellants The Mission Bay Alliance, Jennifer Wade and SaveMuni. "The violations of environmental laws are blatant."
Meserve added, "Wherever a new arena is to be built, full compliance with law is essential to protect Mission Bay and all of San Francisco. There is no excuse for shortcuts. Yet, the city failed to follow and apply laws that protect the Mission Bay neighborhood, home to one of the leading centers of biomedical research and information technology in the world, as well as world-class hospitals, from this incompatible and ill-conceived development," she said.
Review of CEQA cases in the Court of Appeal proceeds differently than most appeals. Rather than review the correctness of trial court's ruling, the three-justice panel assigned to this environmental case will independently review the legality of the city's conduct in approving the arena.
The arena, proposed on a site 1,000 feet from UCSF Children's Hospital, would shoehorn a major sports facility in an already crowded neighborhood, creating traffic gridlock crippling patients' direct access to university hospitals – a potentially fatal outcome that the project's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) failed to adequately address. "Essential mitigation to expand transit systems to serve the arena remains deferred and unfunded despite inaccurate statements that the Warriors' owners would pay for them," said Patrick Soluri, environmental co-counsel for The Mission Bay Alliance and co-appellants. Instead, "the public will be saddled with these costs," according to Soluri.
The development of the Mission Bay South neighborhood took more than 20 years and is frequently recognized as the leading example of a successful public-private partnership. It was the result of a lengthy collaboration by the city, UCSF, and local civic and political leaders in the 1990s to transform an abandoned industrial area into a hub for needed patient care, medical research and discovery. Today, UCSF's state-of-the-art campus and its medical center contribute to San Francisco's thriving $4 billion bioscience industry. UCSF hospitals and biotech companies in the area are providing good jobs and needed health care, and the proposed Warriors' arena would limit innovation dependent on proximity to research activities.
"My son's health and the lives of many children depend on having access to UCSF Hospital in Mission Bay," said Wade—a Mission resident and the mother of a young boy with a heart condition needing ongoing care. "The real-world consequences of this project are extreme," she explained. "Many parents support the appeal and believe the Court of Appeal will recognize that there are significant issues with this project location that will jeopardize lives when there are events at the arena."
"The deeply flawed arena EIR failed to assess and mitigate the project's significant traffic, public transit and other adverse environmental impacts," said Gerald Cauthen, transportation engineer and co-founder of SaveMuni, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization established to improve public transit in San Francisco. "This huge development, planning 225 major events a year, would compound San Francisco's traffic congestion and Muni problems and threatens to delay the all-important Caltrain extension for years, if not for decades."
The appeal also challenges the fact that in its haste to approve the project, the city's environmental review inexplicably omitted any study of a number of critical environmental impacts, over the public's objections—including land use, biological resources, geology and hazardous materials impacts, instead relying on outdated analyses in environmental documents prepared in 1998. At that time, neither an 18,000-seat arena, nor anything like it, was contemplated.
"By relying on environmental review documents from 18 years ago, the city failed to analyze critical environmental issues that will impact city residents and visitors in the years to come if the arena is built," Meserve said. "The EIR did not analyze the undisputed profound land use changes that will result in Mission Bay if this project is built. The public and even city decision-makers thus had no way of knowing the arena's true impacts—violating core environmental review requirements."
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.
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SOURCE The Mission Bay Alliance