Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 13, 2016

Contacts:  Doug Carstens, Chatten-Brown & Carstens, (310) 798-2400
John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 533-4416

Full Review Requested of Proposed Warriors' Arena Greenhouse Gas Emissions,
Toxic Air Contaminants, Land-use Impacts

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 in San Francisco. The groups asked California’s 1st District Court of Appeal to find that the city’s review of the project failed to quantify and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed arena or inform the public about cancer-causing toxic air contaminants. The groups said the city’s 2015 “environmental impact report” for the arena violates the California Environmental Quality Act.

The brief, filed in support of the lawsuit brought by Mission Bay Alliance, Jennifer Wade and SaveMuni, also says the city provided no analysis of the major land-use impacts from squeezing an arena into the city’s Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan area.

“The city simply failed to ‘show its work’ in claiming that this huge project will not produce a single additional ton of climate pollution,” said John Buse, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s simply no quantitative evidence that the arena won’t contribute to our growing climate crisis.”

The groups also took issue with the city’s failure to use scientifically accurate information regarding toxic air contaminants. Unfortunately, the city approved the vehicle-intensive arena just across the street from the UCSF Children’s Hospital as well as residential housing for UCSF students and their families. An analysis using currently recommended breathing rates for children — relying on data available to the city in 2012 — shows a 71 percent increase in cancer risk from arena emissions for a child resident of the Hearst Tower at UCSF. Rather than disclosing this unacceptable impact on children and providing mitigation to protect them, the city’s review of the arena relied on outdated data from 2003.

“It’s unacceptable and outrageous that the city ignored relevant guidance and updated breathing rate data from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which was available well before the city’s arena project EIR was written. The result is to expose children, living in Mission Bay and receiving treatment at UCSF Children’s Hospital, to dramatically increased risks for cancer,” said Zofia Wright of the Sunset Coalition, which became interested in the case involving the arena out of concern over the same outdated breathing rates being used for another project in Southern California.

The friend of the court brief also emphasized that 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; yet the 2015 report for the proposed arena omitted review of land use entirely, relying on a previous report from 1998.

“Reliance on older environmental review documents is only appropriate when those documents fully analyze impacts from the project under review,” said Doug Carstens, who represented the groups filing the brief. “The city’s position that a 1998 EIR that never mentioned an arena — or anything like it — analyzed the arena’s impacts actually makes a mockery of CEQA’s requirements and shortchanges the public.” 

The case has been set for oral argument on Nov. 16; the groups will monitor the outcome of the case, which has statewide implications for what is adequate environmental analysis and mitigation to protect the environment and public health.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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