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Opposition to Warriors' San Francisco arena builds

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Any giant project is sure to be a divisive issue, especially if accomplished in a major city. This no doubt holds true for the proposed Warriors arena to be built in downtown San Francisco.

The Warriors' arena project has its backers -- and its attempted derailers.
The Warriors' arena project has its backers -- and its attempted derailers.
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The Mission Bay Alliance, a wealthy and mostly secret group of University of California San Francisco donors focused on derailing the Warriors' San Francisco arena, has hired multiple high-powered attorneys with expertise in the California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA].

The Alliance has hired noted attorneys who are experts in environmental law in order to thoroughly review the Warriors organization's Environmental Impact Report, which will be released this Friday, the day after Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Warriors organization bought the 12-acre plot of land in Mission Bay from Salesforce.com last April and is attempting to have the stadium built in time for the 2018-2019 regular season opener. The team was forced to abandon its original plans to build a waterfront arena on Piers 30-32, after much political opposition derailed those plans. Following the purchase of the Mission Bay land, the Warriors had much smooth sailing, working on arena designs.

Now, they are facing the Mission Bay Alliance, a high-powered group unafraid — and highly willing — to confront the team in court.

"Someone is always going to sue," arena project spokesman P.J. Johnston said.

The Alliance has hired famed attorney David Boies from the New York firm Boies, Schiller, & Flexner, which helped determine the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush, to be Lead Counsel. Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the Wall Street Journal writes, is a national legal "powerhouse." Boies is a highly skilled litigator; he was on the legal team that overturned Proposition 8, which had prohibited gay marriage in California.

Further, the Alliance has numerous attorneys who are "veterans of high-profile California development fights" at its disposal. Notably, reports the San Francisco Business Journal, Susan Brandt-Hawley, Thomas Lippe, as well as Osha Meserve and Patrick Soluri have joined on.

"Our team of attorneys — some of the nation's best — will be tasked with analyzing the Warriors' proposed plan [the environmental impact report]," Bruce Spaulding, UCSF's former Senior Vice Chairman and a representative of the Mission Bay Alliance said. "They [will advise] us on the environmental and civic impacts of a project that we believe would wreak havoc on Mission Bay for UCSF and bioscience research."

Brandt-Hawley has represented hundreds of public-interest groups in widely-varied California environmental and land use issues, and achieved a major victory when a San Francisco Superior Court Judge struck down the 8 Washington luxury condo project.

Lippe has extensive experience in litigating high-profile Bay Area land use cases, including attempting to minimize the environmental impact of the sailing competition America's Cup on San Francisco.

Meserve and Soluri run a Sacramento-based environmental law practice. Soluri specifically has experience litigating NBA arenas, and is currently fighting the Kings arena deal that allegedly includes $100M in taxpayer-funded "sweeteners." Meserve is an expert in challenging significant projects on environmental grounds.

"Our job is to protect the public's right to know what these impacts will be by ensuring [San Francisco] and the Warriors comply with CEQA," Meserve said in a statement.

Mission Bay Alliance spokesman Sam Singer said that the alliance has "already flagged what could be some serious legal challenges," and the San Francisco Chronicle reports that they will likely focus on noise, traffic, and parking issues. The Warriors' official arena website says that "950 parking spaces" will be built and the arena will be "well served by public transportation."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a vigorous supporter of the Warriors, is confident that the arena project will succeed.

"[We're prepared] to litigate until the cows come home," Singer said.

For more on this project, check out our Golden State Warriors San Francisco arena project storystream.