SAN FRANCISCO – The Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment and the Sunset Coalition have filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of those opposing the Golden State Warriors’ proposed 18,000-seat arena.
The groups asked California’s 1st District Court of Appeal to rule that San Francisco’s review of the project failed to quantify and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the center or inform the public about cancer-causing toxic air contaminants.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in June that the city’s environmental review was sufficient enough to allow the project to move forward. That ruling was appealed in July.
Douglas P. Carstens of Chatten-Brown & Carstens LLP, which is representing the parties that filed the amicus brief, said the groups want the project to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and planning and zoning laws, which may require consideration of alternate sites.
Carstens said the city failed to quantify total greenhouse gas emissions or the amount mitigation measures would be expected to reduce them, though it claimed there would be net zero emissions.
“The city failed to use the latest and greatest science available regarding measuring toxic pollution impacts to children and others though the public asked that it be used,” Carstens told the Northern California Record.
In addition, the groups said the city’s 2015 environmental impact report for the arena violated the CEQA.
“The city approved a project that far exceeded what was allowed under the redevelopment plan for the area, thus violating that plan and CEQA by not analyzing the violation,” Carstens said.
The brief, filed in support of the lawsuit brought by Mission Bay Alliance, Jennifer Wade and SaveMuni, also said the city provided no analysis of the major land-use impacts from trying to fit an arena into San Francisco’s Mission Bay South redevelopment plan area.
In their appellants’ brief, the plaintiffs said the city has admitted that the “gridlock-inducing arena” would cause “significant and unavoidable” traffic congestion in the area.
“The environmental impact the project could have is extensive,” Carstens said. “It could have extensive traffic and air pollution impacts because of its size and the fact it is out of scale for the area (as planned in the redevelopment plan).”
According to a Center for Biological Diversity news release, the city approved the vehicle-intensive arena just across the street from the University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Children’s Hospital, as well as residential housing for UCSF students and their families.
The center said an analysis using current recommended breathing rates for children, which relied on data available to the city in 2012, showed a 71 percent increase in cancer risk from arena emissions for a child resident of the Hearst Tower at UCSF.
However, the center said the city’s review of the arena relied on outdated data from 2003. The amicus brief also said the proposed arena would alter the overall land-use character of the project site from that analyzed in the Mission Bay redevelopment plan’s environmental impact report. The Center for Biological Diversity said the 2015 report for the proposed arena omitted a review of land use entirely, relying on a previous report from 1998.
John Buse, senior counsel and legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the center’s interest in the Warriors’ arena case was fueled by the Newhall Ranch case, a case it won last year before the California Supreme Court that set a precedent for how new projects must evaluate climate change impacts.
“There are still important questions as to what constitutes an adequate environmental review of climate impacts, but we felt the city’s approach here wasn’t at all adequate,” Buse told the Northern California Record.
The case has been set for oral argument on Nov. 16.