As contentious and, well, shouty as community meetings over proposed housing in the Mission can get, the process of public participation remains remarkably constructive around projects elsewhere in the city, notably the Warriors arena planned for Mission Bay, adjacent to UCSF. Nearly every month since last summer, the Mission Bay Community Advisory Committee has been gathering at the Mission Creek senior apartments to delve into all the gloriously wonky details of the Warriors' proposed 18,000-seat arena and two office towers. And so when a member of the Mission Bay Alliance—the anonymous but spendy group that recently came out against the Warriors arena—got confrontational at last night's meeting, audience members mostly gawked.
As you recall, the anonymous alliance sprung up suddenly, just a month before the arena's environmental impact report is set to be released, and has intimated that it could seek to block the arena with a CEQA suit or even a ballot measure. The alliance's concerns range from insufficient parking for the new arena to traffic congestion around the hospital to the "land-locking" of UCSF, which some university supporters would like to see purchase the arena land, as the San Francisco Business Times has reported.
The Mission Bay Alliance presents itself as a cadre of UCSF stakeholders, though UCSF itself makes a point of distancing itself from the group and emphasizes that it is working with the city to resolve its concerns about sharing infrastructure with its new neighbor. (Admittedly, it's easy to confuse the alliance with UCSF, given that vocal arena critic Bruce Spaulding is a retired UCSF senior vice chancellor.) Until he stepped back from the campaign, Willie Brown joined Spaulding on Team Alliance; Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and tech financier Ron Conway are solidly Team Warriors.
Yesterday morning, the Mission Bay Alliance sent out a press release announcing that alliance member and political adviser Jack Davis would comment on the Warriors' arena plan at yesterday's committee meeting.
After an in-depth presentation on the arena's traffic and parking strategies by Adam Van de Water, a project manager for the city, it became clear that Davis was not actually a speaker on the agenda. Instead, he lined up with other members of the public to make comments and, when his turn came, attempted to hijack the comment period, which limits speakers to two minutes.
"On behalf of the Mission Bay Alliance, the good news is we have put together sufficient enough money to hire the very, very best CEQA attorneys to go over the entirety of the Mission Bay master plan," Davis said. When, after five minutes of back-and-forth, Citizens Advisory Committee chair Corinne Woods attempted to get Davis to give up the microphone, Davis talked over her, addressing any reporters who might have happened to be in the room: "For any people from the press who would like to hear from me, I'll be out here," he said, and moved out to the patio. Someone in the audience booed.
Overall, the speakers who followed—including a UCSF professor and several residents of the nearby Madrone—expressed faith in the community process the Citizens Advisory Committee had begun, even as they raised individual concerns about traffic at particular intersections and ambulance access for the hospital. Patrick Valentino, vice president of South Beach Mission Bay Merchants Association, spoke in support of the arena. "I'm very bothered by this gentleman's last comment about raising a lot of money and making a threat," he said. "A lot of people in this neighborhood care about this project and want to see the right thing done, and we'll work for free. They can raise as much money as they want. We'll be there too."
Madrone resident Yvette Sarnowski questioned the motives of the Mission Bay Alliance. "Those of us who live in Mission Bay, I don't know if any of us have ever heard of it prior to reading about it in the newspaper," she said. "And I also understand they're a 501(c)4, so they don't have to divulge who they are. If they really have a benevolent viewpoint for the region, they would not be hiding behind anonymity."
· Mission Protesters Fight for Housing By Fighting Against It [Curbed SF]
· 'Monster in the Mission' Recap: The Night Everyone Yelled at PowerPoint Slides [Curbed SF]
· New Designs for Warriors Arena Would Like You to Forget That Whole Toilet Debacle [Curbed SF]
· Warriors Complex Wants to Become Mission Bay's Town Center [Curbed SF]
· Mission Bay [Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure]
· Warriors Arena Opponents Bring Out the Big Guns Over Parking [Curbed SF]
· Bag Arena Plan, Opposition Leader Tells Warriors and City, or Face Long Battle [SF Business Times]
· Not Just About Traffic: Warriors' Arena Opposition Also Stems from UCSF Donors' Land Hunger [SF Business Times]
· Big-Time Opposition Emerges to Warriors' Arena Plan [SF Chronicle]
· Benioff, Conway Slam 'Covert' Critics of Warriors Arena Plan [SF Business Times]