Lawsuit seeks to derail Warriors arena

The Mission Bay Alliance made its latest challenge to a proposed Golden State Warriors arena in San Francisco Thursday, suing over an agreement the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center reached with the Warriors in October.

The alliance — which describes itself as a group of UCSF stakeholders, donors, faculty and physicians — has repeatedly objected to the site for the proposed arena at 16th and Third streets, directly across the street from the UCSF campus, on the grounds that it will create impenetrable traffic around the hospital.

They most recently tried to appeal the project’s Environmental Impact Report but were thwarted by the Board of Supervisors at last week’s meeting. After that, the Mission Bay Alliance vowed to challenge the project in the courts.

Today’s lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court accuses UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood of relinquishing his responsibility to negotiate for UCSF’s interests as the Warriors and Mayor Ed Lee pressured and threatened him into taking a bad deal.

The alliance’s primary objection is that UCSF will have little recourse if traffic disruptions come from simultaneous events at the Warriors arena and at AT&T Park a few blocks to the north. UCSF had sought to prohibit the Warriors from having events at the same time as baseball games or other events at AT&T Park but, according to the complaint, Hawgood relented under pressure.

The memorandum of understanding between Hawgood and the Warriors was announced on Oct. 6. Days later the Warriors finalized their purchase of the land from Salesforce, which had planned its own project there before abandoning it in 2012.

Among the provisions in the memorandum are that the Warriors will create a special transportation improvement fund for the neighborhood, will put some limits on events there and will keep in communication with hospital officials if traffic becomes a problem.

The Mission Bay Alliance is not only concerned with the Warriors 18,000-seat arena but the office and retail space planned there as well.

Other development projects in the works will also increase traffic, such as the construction of a new headquarters for Uber and the Giants’ Mission Rock project to add 1,500 residential units and 1.3 million square feet of office and retail space, according to the complaint.

Such traffic could create gridlock on the already difficult to access Mission Bay peninsula, potentially keeping ambulances from quickly reaching UCSF’s emergency room.

To drive that point home, the Mission Bay Alliance included as a plaintiff Jennifer Wade, an assistant professor of biology whose 6-year-old son Magnus has a congenital heart defect.

Wade said in a statement:

“Magnus is alive today because of a series of heart surgeries performed by UCSF doctors. … I filed this lawsuit because I can’t believe that the Chancellor would allow the Warriors to build their arena next to the hospital.”

The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the agreement Hawgood made with the Warriors on the ground that he lacked the authority to make it by not seeking approval from the UC Board of Regents.