The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to affirm the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report certification for the proposed multi-use arena for the Golden State Warriors in the Mission Bay neighborhood.
After more than four hours of public comment and dialogue on the impact of the arena to the community and the environment, from individuals both for and against the development, the board voted unanimously to approve the report’s certification, giving the project the green light.
The appeal of the report, submitted by the Mission Bay Alliance, a coalition of UCSF stakeholders and San Franciscan voters concerned with the potential negative impacts of the arena, was based on concerns that the project will be too close to the recently constructed University of California at San Francisco Medical Center.
The Mission Bay Alliance maintains that the arena could negatively impact the health of patients and severely impact traffic surrounding the UCSF hospitals.
Members of the UCSF community, concerned parents of UCSF patients and Mission Bay residents spoke in favor of the appeal, arguing that noise pollution and traffic are already problems on game days at AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants baseball team, and saying that congestion in the neighborhood would only be exacerbated with construction of another stadium.
A nurse practitioner at UCSF said not only is she concerned that vehicle exhaust and noise pollution will negatively impact patient care, but also that the increased traffic will delay hospital staff and patients as they try to get to the hospital.
Theo Ellington, director of public affairs for the Warriors, disagrees with the Mission Bay Alliance and opponents of the project, saying that the project “makes sense” to be at the intersection of Third and 16th streets and said traffic concerns will be mitigated as the project will provide the city with four new light-rail vehicles for the T-Third line that passes by the proposed arena.
Joel Koppel, a spokesman for the San Francisco Building and Construction Trade Council, said construction, electricians, sheet metal workers and other laborers came out to support the proposed arena today, just hours after Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts signed a letter of intent to pay trade workers a prevailing wage, as opposed to other private development projects which can pay close to minimum wage.
Welts addressed the board at the hearing this evening and urged the supervisors to approve the certification of the EIR.
Many supporters of the project said they wanted to be a part of creating a landmark stadium in San Francisco for the Warriors, while others said they support the arena because they appreciate all the resources the Warriors Community Foundation has already given to the community.
Others said they simply support the project because they want San Francisco to be home to the Warriors basketball team, who are currently undefeated so far this season.
Members of the United Playaz, a group that advocates for non-violence and tries to help young people thrive, showed their support for the arena today along with construction workers who are looking forward to the prevailing wage union jobs promised by the Warriors.
Rudy Corpuz, executive director of United Playaz, said ever since the arena was proposed he has been advocating in favor of jobs, affordable housing and other opportunities for low-income, at-risk youth in the community that the arena can offer.
Warriors officials say the arena will bring thousands of year-round jobs to the neighborhood as well as around 10,000 union jobs during the construction phase.
But the Mission Bay Alliance says the EIR has “serious, deep flaws” and doesn’t do enough to mitigate severe traffic impacts in the area.
They say it underestimates the number of people who will drive to events, and there isn’t enough parking in the area to accommodate the demand posed by arena-goers.
A new poll released Monday, commissioned by the Mission Bay Coalition and conducted by EDC Research, found that fewer than half of the 540 registered voters polled supported development of the proposed arena and commercial buildings at Third and 16th streets.
At 49 percent voter support, the proposed arena has seen a 12 percent decline since a Warriors-commissioned poll, conducted by David Binder Research and released in July, which showed about 61 percent support for the development.
The Mission Bay Alliance appealed the project’s 5,000-page Final Environmental Impact Report, which was released on Oct. 23 and certified 10 days later by the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure.
Osha Meserve, an attorney with the Mission Bay Alliance, said she’s concerned the public hasn’t had a chance to look carefully at the proposal, noting that there were only 10 days between the public release of the Final Environmental Impact Report and certification of it by the commission.
The Mission Bay Alliance has plans to move forward with litigation on the grounds that the project violates the Clean Water Act.
The Warriors arena Final Subsequent EIR was affirmed by 10 members of the Board of Supervisors, with newly-elected Supervisor Aaron Peskin recusing himself from today’s vote.