City Attorney Dennis Herrera speaks to his office following his swearing-in to a fifth term on Jan. 8, 2016.

Herrera vows aggressive defense on approvals of Warriors event center

Taking the reins on his fifth term, City Attorney calls project ‘an important civic priority’ that has been thoroughly scrutinized, overwhelmingly supported
City Attorney Dennis Herrera speaks to his office following his swearing-in to a fifth term on Jan. 8, 2016.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera speaks to his office following his swearing-in to a fifth term on Jan. 8, 2016.

SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 8, 2016)—Taking the oath of office on his fifth term as San Francisco’s City Attorney, Dennis Herrera wasted little time responding to a lawsuit filed yesterday in Sacramento that seeks to throw out a series of approvals and block construction of the Golden State Warriors event center and mixed-use development project in the City’s Mission Bay neighborhood.  The project’s centerpiece, an 18,500-seat home arena for the Warriors basketball team during the NBA season, would offer a year-round venue in San Francisco for a variety of uses that include concerts, family shows, sporting and cultural events, conferences and conventions.

“The event center project is an important civic priority for San Francisco, and we’re going to defend it aggressively from legal attacks that seek to derail it,” Herrera said.  “I’m unsurprised by this lawsuit, and I’m similarly unsurprised that the project opponents took the same kitchen sink approach in their complaint that they’ve pursued throughout the administrative process.  Their efforts aren’t aimed at improving the project, but simply obstructing it for their own seemingly hidden interests.  The fact is that this project has been thoroughly scrutinized under the law, and it has won overwhelming support at every step in the process—including from its neighbors.  It is one of only six projects statewide that Governor Jerry Brown has certified as an environmental leadership project.  And recognizing the critical importance to the City of public safety and access to the UCSF hospitals and neighborhood, we are convinced that the Local/Hospital Access Plan and other public transit and transportation improvements and funding mechanism that the City established in conjunction with UCSF and the Warriors will serve the needs of patients and staff at the hospitals and the surrounding neighborhood.  We’re confident that the City’s and successor agency’s reviews and approvals fully comply with the law’s requirements, and my office will spare no effort demonstrating that to the court.”

Governor Jerry Brown certified the Warriors development as an Environmental Leadership Project last year, which was one of only six projects to meet or exceed the rigorous green building standards required for the designation under state law.  The multi-purpose event center and mixed-use development will include office, retail, open space and structured parking on an approximately 11-acre site within the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan Area.  Following extensive environmental review as required under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, key approvals for the Warriors project included the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, or CCII, which unanimously certified the supplemental environmental impact report on Nov. 3, 2015; and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which affirmed CCII’s certification on by a 10-0 vote on Dec. 8, 2015.

Other elements of the project that faced similarly close scrutiny and went on to win overwhelming approval include: the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board, which granted its approval related to transportation funding on Nov. 3, 2015; CCII, which approved the design for development amendments for the project and major phase, including basic concept and schematic design, on Nov. 3, 2015; the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure’s executive director approved the secondary use findings on Nov. 3, 2015; the San Francisco Planning Commission, whose approval related to design review of the project’s office buildings on Nov. 5, 2015; the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee, which recommended approval of transportation funding on Nov. 9, 2015; the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which granted vacation of easements on Nov. 10, 2015; the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, which granting an entertainment permit on Nov. 10, 2015; San Francisco Public Works approved the tentative subdivision map on Nov. 12, 2015; the Board of Supervisors upheld its tentative subdivision map and rejected an appeal on Dec. 8, 2015; the San Francisco Board of Appeals, which denied an appeal and granted a place of entertainment permit on Dec. 9, 2015; and the Board of Supervisors, which gave final approval to transportation related funding, vacation of easements, and delegation of public infrastructure acceptance on Dec. 15.  The Planning Commission’s Nov. 5 approval has been appealed to the Board of Appeals, which is currently pending.

According to the OCII’s Dec. 9, 2015 notice of determination, the 135-foot tall event center building would be programmed with a capacity of 18,064 seats for basketball games, but could be reconfigured for concerts for a maximum capacity of about 18,500, or a cut-down theater configuration to create a smaller venue space.  Two office and retail buildings would each be 11 stories (160 feet tall at building rooftop); each office and retail building would consist of a podium ground level plus 5 podium levels (90 feet tall), with a 5-story (70-foot tall) tower above.  Additional retail uses would include a 2-story, 38-foot high “gatehouse” building located along Third Street, and a 3-story, 41-foot high “food hall” at the corner of Terry A. Francois Boulevard and South Street.  The total building area would be 1,955,000 gross square feet.  Approximately 3.2 acres of open space would be designed within the site. The project would implement a number of off-site roadway network and curb improvements; transit network improvements; and pedestrian and bicycle network improvements.

The case is: Mission Bay Alliance et al. v. Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure et al., Sacramento County Superior Court, filed Jan. 7, 2016.


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