SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A state appeals court upheld San Francisco’s plan for an 18,500-seat arena to house the Golden State Warriors, finding the city’s strategy to manage traffic and noise around the site should sufficiently ease the impact on homeowners and a nearby children’s hospital.
“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,” First Appellate District Judge Stuart Pollack wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.
The stadium, concert venue and office space planned for the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood won unanimous approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in December 2015. In April 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown said the proposed project qualified for expedited environmental review.
The neighborhood coalition Mission Bay Alliance, transportation advocacy group SaveMuni and San Francisco resident Jennifer Wade – the mother of a 6-year-old with a rare heart condition – petitioned to stop the project this past February. They said the arena's location across the street from UCSF emergency facilities would interfere with parents rushing children with life-threatening illnesses to the hospital.
They also claimed that the city hadn't properly reviewed the arena's traffic, noise and air quality effects on its neighbors.
A state court judge denied the petition this past July, and the First Appellate District affirmed his decision Tuesday.
In its 61-page ruling, the court said the arena will likely cause significant traffic disruption – a concern the city has been up front about all along.
“There is no doubt that traffic in the area will be heavy before and after basketball games and other events attended by more than 18,000 people, especially when overlapping with a game at AT&T Park which may draw more than 45,000 people,” Pollack wrote.
But the panel noted than an environmental impact report prepared by San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure doesn’t bury congestion concerns, and proposes a transportation-management plan that includes new sidewalk and bike lane construction, light-rail expansion, upgraded traffic signals and parking-control officers at key intersections near the arena.
In a statement, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the city is pleased that the court allowed the project to move forward.
"We're very pleased with the Court of Appeal's thoughtful and comprehensive ruling. It shows that a rigorous environmental review was conducted. Both the trial court and the appellate court have affirmed that convincingly,” he said. “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."
The Mission Bay Alliance may challenge the ruling with an appeal to the California Supreme Court.
“The Mission Bay Alliance, Jennifer Wade, and SaveMuni are deeply disappointed with today’s court ruling. Our legal team is reviewing the ruling and considering options,” the alliance said in the statement. “We believe that the proposed Warriors’ arena is incompatible with the Mission Bay South neighborhood and would result in blocked access to UCSF hospitals, dangerous air pollution, and traffic gridlock throughout the community.”
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