Herrera applauds Court of Appeal ruling affirming Warriors Event Center approvals

Court concludes there is no merit to plaintiffs’ objections.  Popular and thoroughly-vetted project moves forward.

SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 29, 2016)— A panel of appellate court judges today unanimously upheld a lower court’s decision affirming the city’s environmental review and approval process for the Golden State Warriors event center in San Francisco, resoundingly rejecting arguments from a small group of opponents trying to stop the project.

The 3-0 ruling by the First District Court of Appeal of the State of California upheld a Superior Court ruling and allows the Warriors to move ahead on breaking ground on the project.

“We’re very pleased with the Court of Appeal’s thoughtful and comprehensive ruling,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “It shows that a rigorous environmental review was conducted. Both the trial court and the appellate court have affirmed that convincingly. We’re confident the environmental review and approval process for this project will withstand any legal challenges. This event center is an important civic priority that has been thoroughly scrutinized and has won overwhelming support every step of the way.”

Opponents of the project, a group calling itself the Mission Bay Alliance, had filed the legal challenge alleging the environmental review was inadequate.

The Court of Appeal noted in its ruling that “in general the record reflects a thorough and exhaustive study of all environmental impacts to be anticipated that were not considered in the 1998 FSEIR, and identification of numerous mitigation measures to lessen adverse impacts to the extent feasible. We conclude there is no merit to plaintiffs’ objections to the sufficiency of the city’s environmental analysis and its approval of the proposed project.”

Excerpts from the Court of Appeal’s ruling:

·    “There was a reasonable basis for [Office on Community Investment and Infrastructure] to conclude that the presence of the arena would not necessarily impede the operation of others in the area, including the UCSF hospital facilities. … It is unclear what additional environmental impacts might have been studied under the label ‘land use’ or “character of the neighborhood” that were not covered in the FSEIR. In response to questions by this court, plaintiffs have articulated no such subject.”   (p. 10)

·    “Plaintiffs also state, with no elaboration, that the initial study failed to consider the site’s potential as a wildlife nursery and bat migration area. In fact, the initial study includes a detailed assessment of wildlife nursery and migration and reasonably relies upon a biological site survey and existing mitigation measures in finding no adverse impact on bird nesting or bat migration.”  (p. 12 n. 16)

·    “Plaintiffs contend the project does not conform to the zoning designation in the Mission Bay South redevelopment plan. Plaintiffs’ contentions in this regard have been rather fluid, often ill-defined, and arguably waived by their failure to timely present them in the administrative proceedings or in the superior court.”  p. 50

Herrera, along with lawyers for the Office on Community Investment and Infrastructure and the project sponsor, Golden State Warriors, successfully defended San Francisco in civil litigation that sought to invalidate a series of local approvals and permits authorizing the event center and mixed-use development.   San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett L. Wong’s July 18 ruled decisively affirmed the validity of the city’s review and approval process, dealing yet another setback to project foes who filed multiple lawsuits to kill the long-awaited development.   

The project’s centerpiece, an 18,500-seat home arena for the Golden State Warriors basketball team during the NBA season, would offer a year-round entertainment and recreation venue in San Francisco for a variety of uses that include concerts, family shows, sporting and cultural events, conferences and conventions.  The project has won virtually unanimous support from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and an array of city commissions charged with planning, transportation, entertainment, public utilities and public works responsibilities.  The Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure gave its own unanimous backing following an exhaustive environmental review process, and Governor Jerry Brown has certified the development as an Environmental Leadership Project—one of only a handful of projects statewide to meet or exceed rigorous economic stimulus and environmental building standards.

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. Case documents are available at: https://www.sfcityattorney.org/.


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