Warriors Arena proposal rouses supporters and opponents

Project opponents depict Bay views with and without the proposed Warriors Arena.
San Francisco Waterfront Alliance

UPDATED Rival teams have formed in the last week to support and oppose the proposed Warriors Arena at Piers 30-32 as the California Legislature considers a new bill to approve the project, a new design is about to be released, and a trio of San Francisco agencies prepares to hold informational hearings.

Fresh off the collapse of two of the city's biggest development deals, Mayor Ed Lee and his allies are pushing hard to lock in what he hopes will be his “legacy project.” A new group of local business leaders calling itself Warriors on the Waterfront held a rally on the steps of City Hall today, emphasizing the project's job creation, community partnerships, and revitalization of a dilapidated stretch of waterfront.

That launch event followed last week's creation of the San Francisco Waterfront Alliance, made up mostly of area residents and environmental organizations that oppose the project, including the Sierra Club and Save the Bay. The group today released a press release and artist's rendering of how the 13-story arena and two condo towers may block views of the bay.

Last week, SFWA put out a press release criticizing Assembly Bill 1273 by Assembly member Phil Ting, claiming it would allow the project to avoid scrutiny by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which oversees and issues permits for waterfront projects. “One of the primary reasons we have regulatory agencies like the BCDC is so that local jurisdictions don’t run roughshod over the Bay and the waterfront,” group President Gayle Cahill said in the release. “The San Francisco Waterfront Alliance strongly believes that BCDC should retain its jurisdiction in this project to ensure independent oversight for the Bay and for all of us.”

Yet Ting and supporters of the project say the legislation doesn't change BCDC's oversight of the project, pointing to language that explicitly acknowledges the agency's authority. While the legislation would remove the need for the three-member State Lands Commission to approve the project, proponents said approval by the full Legislature is a higher bar that ensures more public scrutiny and accountability.

“It does not waive BCDC. It goes through the same BCDC process,” Ting told us. “By going through the Legislature, you do have more hearings and public process. The idea was to make this more thoroughly vetted.”

The Port's Brad Benson told us that State Lands staff is also still actively scrutinizing the project. “We've been working closely with State Land and BCDC staff to incorporate their concerns,” Benson said. For example, the arena configuration has already been moved closer to shore than originally proposed because of BCDC concerns about maritime access to a deep-water berth at the site.

In addition to approval by the Legislature and BCDC, the project must also be approved by the Port Commission and Board of Supervisors. The latest design for the project is scheduled to be released on May 6 and will be discussed by the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee that day, said Gloria Chan of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The Planning Commission will then hold an informational hearing on the new design May 9, following by a May 14 hearing before the Port Commission. 

The project is proposed to include a 17,500-seat arena that would host more than 200 Warriors games, concerts, and other events per year, starting in 2017, on 13 acres of rebuilt piers. The adjacent, 2.3-acre Seawall Lot 330 would include up to 130 new condos, a hotel of up to 250 rooms, and 34,000 square feet of restaurants and retail space.

The whole project would include just 830-930 parking spaces, making its still-unfolding transportation plan key to the project's approval. Opponents of the project also criticize the project's height and its financing package and say this intensive development isn't consistent with city plans or state laws that protect waterfront lands for maritime and public uses.

"We told the mayor before it was even announced that it is not a legal use of the pier," Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis told the Guardian. "There's no reason that an arena has to be out on the water on a crumbling pier."

Yet proponents tout the project's economic benefits to the city and the need for an arena that size to host concerts and conventions, beyond the prestige of luring the Warriors away from Oakland and back to its original home city. “It will be privately financed and turn a crumbling pier and unsafe parking lot into a state-of-the-art venue that generates new revenue for the region and provides a spectacular new facility for the Bay Area’s NBA team.”Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council and an honorary co-chair of Warriors on the Waterfront, said in the press release.

UPDATE: Rudy Nothenberg, who served five SF mayors financing big civic projects and helped found SF Waterfront Alliance, disputes several assertions made by project proponents. "The first version of [AB 1273] unquestionably moved BCDC out of the way," he said, claiming that bill language was altered after input from BCDC and the consultant to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. BCDC has not yet returned a call from the Guardian on the issue. Nothenberg also says AB 1273 turns the deliberate fact-finding process required for the State Lands Commission to make its public trust determination into a political process that is a less thorough vetting of the project.

He also took issue with the statements by Wunderman and others that this is a privately funded project, noting that taxpayers will be paying $120 million to rebuild these piers and will give up future property taxes on the site, which will be diverted by a special tax district to help repay the bonds. Nothenberg told us, "Their continued assertion that there is no public money involved in blatantly untrue."



All of that unrealized pay to play "ton of potential business revenue" versus free open space on the precious bay front?

There is no contest.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 8:35 am

By that argument, we should pull down the baseball park and replace it with a car park and some rotting, rusting piers.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 8:45 am

How about gyfting multiple zillionaires at once?

http://cybre.net/pub/warriors arena.JPG

Posted by marcos on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 8:59 am

the funds to undertake projects like this, plus the willingness to bear all the risk.

Scratch the surface and you will find institutions behind these ventures, and not individuals. So in the end it is your IRA that is funding this and profiting from it.

If you want to ever retire, you should support things like this.

Posted by anon on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 9:19 am

It is not all about getting rich, some of us favor the intangibles.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 9:27 am

And fighting class warfare.

I fail to see how the waterfront would be better if there were no ballpark, ferry building, pier 39 etc.

If you want a rotting waterfront, go live in Oakland.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

Keep in mind that this is the Marcos that argued that the attempt to put perma sod and better lighting on some poorly maintained soccer fields in GG park was an affront to the casual sex efforts of SF's gays.

I am a gay btw.

Posted by Erick Brooks on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

at soccer fields in the park seemed to be a pressing concern for Marcos.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

of the waterfront.

But I have often taken the trip over to Oakland to watch games.

So do I support transforming a derelict piece of dockland into a vibrant state-of-the-art stadium?

You bet I do.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2013 @ 10:33 am

An arena on a fucking pier with sea level rise? Now that's some smart thinking. WTF? Is everyone living in denial about sea level rise? That can't happen here I guess. That can only happen at those other places. I wonder how pretentious condos will look when they're being flooded out with water from the Bay?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 12:52 am

Until the opponents of the arena can explain how they are going to come up with the estimated 200 million dollars which is what it would cost to demolish and retrofit Pier 32 (which is what the Warriors will pay for) they opposition to the arena is totally devoid of logic. Pier 32 is not some pristine open space or scenic vista. It is a rotting pier that if not developed will be condemned and of not of use to anybody. As far a blocking of bay views are concerned, that is absurd. There are literally dozens of places along with waterfront you can view the bay. The Warriors are almost certainly going to include in their plan waterfront parks near the arena that will probably provide more waterfront access they what you have now. The proximity of this location to BART & MUNI will make taking mass transit the obvious choice to attend events at the arena. The choice is clear: A new arena that will provide jobs and tax revenue to the City or a condemned pier on the waterfront that will be an unusable blight on the waterfront. I would even think the anti-development Bay Guardian would realize this choice is a no brainer

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 8:51 am

Well said. I am sure that the final plan will provide better views and access than the current Red Java Hut option. Anyone walking from AT&T Park to the Ferry Building will have plenty of spots to enjoy the view of the Bay Bridge.

The Embarcadero Bart station is closer to the proposed arena than the Coliseum Bart station is to the current Oracle Arena. Huge crowds of people walk all the way from AT&T to the Ferry Building. Public transit doesn't seem to be a problem at all for the 44,000 seat baseball stadium, not sure why it is a deal breaker for the Arena.

But you can be sure that the SFBG writers and Nimby's will continue to make that vague claim anyway.

FWIW, the nimbys and SFBG would be just fine with letting the piers rot.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 9:40 am

I'm sure you like it as much as you are paid to like it. If someone paid you more to like something else or to not like this project, you'd do that as well.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 11:45 am

Actually, it is city taxpayers who are paying $120 million to demolish and rebuild the pier for the Warriors and concert promoters to use. If we wanted to remove the pier and build a waterfront beach, we could do it for far less than that. The idea that the Warriors are doing some kind of favor for taxpayers is bullshit.

Posted by steven on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 9:35 am

If both the city and the Warriors gets something out of it, and they do, then both should contribute and have some skin in the game.

Posted by anon on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 9:43 am

Is the city getting a share of the profits? If it was a "joint investment," wouldn't that be the case? Instead, this is just another public-private partnership that the neoliberals love so much, in which taxpayers subsidize developers and private corporations and we're lucky if the increased tax revenue even covers the cost of providing city services, which it usually doesn't. Personally, I have mixed views on this project, but I do think that we need to have an honest public discussion about it, something that didn't happen with the America's Cup (despite our best efforts), for taxpayers are getting screwed.

Posted by steven on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 10:26 am

the sooner we get this place hella gentrified, the sooner we can force out jokers like Steve Jones and other re-gressives who won't be able to afford to live here and we can finally have nice things, like streets without shit smeared on them and a degenerate drug and alcohol dependent population that is human waste we should ship to Nevada. people who work for their job instead of being a parasite like the army of liberal non profits looting the city will finally have a chance!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

This controversy is not about local residents or even city residents. It is about the future of San Francisco Bay, which belongs to all Californians, if not the world. The current pier structures are "crumbling into the bay" because we have decided to let time and the elements do the work for us. This process should continue until the area is restored to open water again. We have already eliminated large parts of the Bay over the years and what remains is neither a waste of space nor an opportunity for development. We should need a better reason than this to kill off another piece of San Francisco Bay.

Posted by Bud Ryerson on May. 12, 2013 @ 10:39 am

gleaming family entertainment complex, than a bunch of rotting piers. Just look at Fisherman's wharf for instance - would that be "better" if it were still rotting.

Ideas about saving this and that are fine, but where will you find the money that will give the city the return that this project will. Ideas without funding are empty and pointless.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

SF is not original home city of the Golden State Warriors. They were the Philadelphia Warriors 1947-1961, The San Francisco Warriors 1962-1971 & The Golden State Warriors of Oakland 1972-Present.

Posted by GuestCFL on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

SF is not original home city of the Golden State Warriors. They were the Philadelphia Warriors 1947-1961, The San Francisco Warriors 1962-1971 & The Golden State Warriors of Oakland 1972-Present.

Posted by GuestCFL on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

The Warriors arena proposal must be stopped at all costs. It is a real estate commercial development BOONDOGGLE for both the city and those residents who are forced to live with it. The city's transportation system is NOWHERE near capable of handling the influx of millions of more people to the waterfront. The Warrior owners admit as much.

For those who worship at the alter of sports, get LOST.

Posted by Byron Gordon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 5:04 pm