On July 18, 2016, in a 54-page opinion, Judge Wong of the San Francisco Superior Court delivered a decisive victory to the respondents and real parties in interest in the litigation concerning the proposed Golden State Warriors arena in Mission Bay Alliance v. Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. Thomas Law Group represented the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII).
For years, the Warriors have been planning to relocate to San Francisco from their current stadium in Oakland. The Project involves constructing a multi-purpose event center and mixed uses, including office, retail, and open space, on an 11-acre site in the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan (Plan) area. In April 2015, the Governor certified the Project as an Environmental Leadership Development Project under AB 900. A subsequent environmental impact report (SEIR) was prepared for the Project, tiering from the 1998 Mission Bay EIR.
OCII, the successor agency to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, certified the Final SEIR and approved the Project on November 3, 2015. That same day, OCII’s executive director determined that the Project qualified as a “secondary use” permitted under the Plan. Acting as responsible agencies under CEQA, various local agencies and departments of the City and County of San Francisco (City) subsequently granted additional approvals for the Project. Petitioners challenged these actions on numerous fronts in two actions that were later consolidated.
The court first held that OCII did not abuse its discretion in finding that the event center is an authorized secondary use under the Plan because the Project qualifies as a nighttime entertainment use, a recreation building use, and as “public structures or uses of nonindustrial character.”
Next, the court held that OCII complied with CEQA, specifically finding that the SEIR addresses all impacts of the Project at the appropriate level of detail and adequately analyzes impacts relating to land use, hazards and hazardous materials, recreation, biological resources, transportation and transit, toxic air contaminants, noise, wastewater facilities, greenhouse gas emissions, and wind. The court also held that the SEIR analyzes a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives.
Finally, the court addressed the remaining non-CEQA claims, finding that the City did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the event center complies with Prop M and when it approved the Place of Entertainment permit. The court further held that the Project did not include an economic development subsidy.
Accordingly, the court denied both of Petitioners’ petitions for writ of mandate. Pursuant to the accelerated litigation timeline under AB 900, the Court of Appeal would hear any appeal filed by Petitioners by the end of this year.