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Appeals Court Approves Plan to Build New SF Arena for Golden State Warriors

A state appeals court has given an assist to the NBA's leading basketball team for a new arena in San Francisco.

In blocking an attempt by opponents, the First District Court of Appeal said the city's plan complies with environmental standards that were challenged on appeal. The Mission Bay plan includes a 488,000-square-foot event center with a capacity of up to 18,500 seats to host games by the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Local businesses, including a medical center, had claimed that increased traffic would adversely affect them. The court rejected the argument.

"[M]ost basketball games and concerts drawing large crowds will generally occur during evening hours, 'after commercial and medical office hours of nearby uses," the court said. The unanimous panel also turned aside arguments that the construction would endanger nesting for birds and bats.

Not Quite a Slam Dunk

The legal challenge came in 2015 after the city and county approved the environmental impact report for the plan, which included building the new stadium at 3rd and 16th streets near UCSF Mission Bay Campus in San Francisco. The Mission Bay Alliance, a coalition of UCSF stakeholders, donors, physicians, and staff argued that the environmental study was flawed. In weighing their argument, the court considered statements by city planners.

"The project, including its retail uses, restaurants, and open space, would contribute vitality to Mission Bay's street life and activate its pedestrian realms, which ... would generally benefit the employees, students, and visitors that use the UCSF campus," the court quoted. "Although this would represent a change in land use character, the combined effect would not be adverse. Each use would still function as intended, and many of the uses would be complementary."

Score One for San Francisco

A lower court in July upheld the environmental impact report, clearing the way for construction of the arena, two 11-story office and retail buildings, parking facilities and 3.2 acres of open space. The court of appeals, upholding the trial court, was unanimous.

These two rulings are an important victory not only for the Warriors organization, but for San Francisco city planners as well. The mayor and the supervisors and UCSF have already endorsed the project.

No comment from the City of Oakland, which currently hosts the basketball team at Oracle Arena.

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