Warriors win after Mission Bay arena appeal rejected

The Warriors have proposed an arena at an 11-acre site in Mission Bay. (Courtesy rendering)

The Golden State Warriors’ winning streak moved Tuesday from the basketball court into the chambers at San Francisco City Hall.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to reject an appeal of the environmental impact report for the planned new sports arena for the basketball franchise. The Board also approved the project in its entirety.

The team would move to the 18,000­-seat arena from its current home at Oracle Arena in Oakland in time for the 2018­-19 NBA basketball season.

Following the vote, Mayor Ed Lee called the arena “a huge win for San Francisco.”

The Warriors’ San Francisco relocation plan suffered a setback last year. Initially, the team, in working with city officials, planned to build a new arena on the waterfront just south of AT&T Park on Piers 30-­32. But with increasing cost estimates and political opposition, the team set its sights on Mission Bay and purchased a 12­-acre site at Third and 16th streets from Salesforce.com for the arena and 580,000 square feet of commercial space.

The project relocation was met with widespread support, but as the project neared key approval actions, a group of wealthy UCSF donors and biotechnology executives, calling themselves the Mission Bay Alliance, emerged and opposed the project.

The group argues the arena will have devastating traffic impacts on the emergency services at the nearby UCSF Medical Center.

The alliance has said it would file a lawsuit if the appeal was rejected. The appeal raises a range of objections, like failure to properly analyze impacts to traffic, wildlife and wastewater quality.

The City says it has the answer to avoid significant impacts to traffic flow by using parking control officers, transit-only lanes and increased public transit service.

As part of the arena proposal, The City plans to invest $55 million for transit improvements in the area, funded from venue revenues it will collect and possible San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency revenue bonds. In October, UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood officially backed the project after reaching a compromise that followed months of discussions with The City over managing traffic impacts.

“The T­-third line will have about a fourfold increase in service,” said Adam Van der Water, arena project manager for the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, during the hearing. “That’s going to really be the workhorse … and take the most passengers by transit.

“We are also proposing arena specific special event shuttles,” he added. “We absolutely do not want to cannibalize service from elsewhere in The City.”

Tom Lippe, attorney for Mission Bay Alliance, said, “You’ve heard from the planning staff members who are very good at painting a rosy picture at what’s going to happen out there. But it’s harder to be glib about what the document actually says.”

Lippe said that some of the mitigations only agree to a “process” and are “unenforceable.”

But members of the board disagreed, voting 10-­0 to reject the appeal. “The City has done an adequate and complete job,” Supervisor Jane Kim said.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who was sworn into the District 3 seat before the hearing, recused himself upon advice of the City Attorney. Peskin said he was unable to read the thousands of pages of related materials before returning to San Francisco that morning.

Following the vote, Sam Singer, spokesman for the Mission Bay Alliance, issued a statement indicating the group’s intention to sue. “It is unlawful for the City to allow the Warriors’ desire to quickly build a new arena to trump long­-term environmental protection,” he said in the statement.

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