Warriors Event Center

The City Attorney's Office's starting lineup in the Warriors Event Center litigation includes (from left to right): Deputy City Attorney Jim Emery, Chief Assistant City Attorney Jesse Smith, and Deputy City Attorneys John Malamut and Brian Crossman.
The City Attorney’s Office’s starting lineup in the Warriors Event Center litigation includes (from left to right): Deputy City Attorney Jim Emery, Chief Assistant City Attorney Jesse Smith, and Deputy City Attorneys John Malamut and Brian Crossman.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office provided essential legal advice and support for the Warriors Event Center, now known as the Chase Center. Deputy city attorneys laid the groundwork for the center by ensuring developers abided by City codes and obtained necessary permits and approvals. The office went on to defend the arena in court against challenges to the environmental impact report and related approvals for the event center, as well as its designation as an Environmental Leadership Project. In 2016, the venue was one of only six projects to have received the designation, awarded by Governor Jerry Brown, because it met or exceeded rigorous economic stimulus and environmental building standards. The designation expedited the litigation challenging the project, which resulted in a published opinion from the First District Court of Appeal and a subsequent denial of review by the California Supreme Court, confirming the City had lawfully approved the event center. (Mission Bay Alliance v. Office of Community Investment & Infrastructure (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 160.) Following the litigation, the Chase Center opened in September 2019.

The venue won wide support from San Francisco community leaders and city agencies for its investment and contributions to the City and Mission Bay neighborhood. The project gained unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors, secured key approvals from the City and passed review from the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. Throughout the construction process, deputy city attorneys on the Land Use and Government teams helped with many elements of the project and collaborated with attorneys for the Golden State Warriors and the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure.

“I’m thrilled to see the Chase Center become a reality,” Herrera said. “It’s thanks to citywide support that this project has flourished. It has surmounted all of the challenges it has faced, and I’m pleased my office could play a role in that. Chase Center is a great addition to the City and to Mission Bay. I want to thank the attorneys in my office who made sure the project met City regulations and defended it in court.”

Project History

Plans for the Warriors Event Center are announced, with support from Governor Jerry Brown and Mayor Ed Lee. The center’s primary use will be as a home for the Golden State Warriors, but will host other entertainment events.

April: Governor Brown certifies the event center as an Environmental Leadership Project.

November and December: City agencies award crucial approvals including: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board granted its approval related to transportation funding on Nov. 3, 2015; Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure 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 approved related to design review of the project’s office buildings on Nov. 5, 2015; the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee recommended approval of transportation funding on Nov. 9, 2015; the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission granted vacation of easements on Nov. 10, 2015; the San Francisco Entertainment Commission granted 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 denied appeals and granted a place of entertainment permit on Dec. 9, 2015, and affirmed the Planning Commission’s design approval on February 24, 2016; and the Board of Supervisors gave final approval to transportation related funding, vacation of easements, and delegation of public infrastructure acceptance on Dec. 15.

December: The Warriors and the City Attorney’s Office release a plan to manage traffic flow during events, which addresses neighborhood concerns of congestion, hospital access and more.

The City Attorney’s Office successfully defeats a barrage of legal challenges against the center and paves the way for a 2019 opening of Chase Center.

April 2016: The California Superior Court denies a motion to remove the Chase Center from an expedited litigation schedule, conferred by the project’s status as an Environmental Leadership Project.

July 2016: A trial court denies a petition to set aside City approvals for the Chase Center, finding that the City followed the law.

November 2016: The First District Court of Appeals affirms the trial court’s judgment that the City lawfully approved the Chase Center.

January 2017: The California Supreme Court denies a further petition to again review approval of the Chase Center, ending the petitioners’ challenge to the project. The decision is a victory for Herrera’s office and the center.

The Chase Center opens! A ribbon cutting ceremony is held September 3 and Mayor London Breed opens the doors to the venue. The project’s centerpiece, an 18,500-seat home arena for the Warriors basketball team during the NBA season, offers 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 center’s grand opening is September 6.


Litigation Documents

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