If anybody in San Francisco was rooting for the Warriors to lose last night, every single one of them was probably at City Hall.
The Mission Bay Alliance, a group that has sworn to fight the incoming 18,000-seat Warriors stadium seemingly to its dying breath (a crusade that included yesterday’s procedural challenge trying to get the stadium’s environmental impact report thrown out), have always maintained that they like the team perfectly fine. Just not the building.
A self-proclaimed coalition of “UCSF stakeholders, donors, faculty, physicians, and the working men and women of San Francisco,” the MBA objects to the Warriors’ Mission Bay arena on several grounds — namely, that it will cause traffic gridlock, block ambulance routes and access to UCSF medical centers, and generate enough “noise pollution” to threaten the recovery of cancer patients in nearby hospitals.
The MBA’s timing couldn’t be worse .
[jump] Even as the MBA was making a last stand on the arena plan (set to break ground next year), the Warriors were beating the Pacers 131-123 and tying the second longest winning streak in NBA history. They’re carving out a legacy as one of the best teams of all time, and these guys are trying to keep them out of San Francisco?
Hate the stadium if you will. But good luck being heard over the crowd.
It was actually a robust showing from the MBA, whose supporters the Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius previously compared to dark matter: often cited, never observed. About three dozen San Franciscans showed up to blast the plan, citing worries about traffic and the risk of infringing on operations at UCSF Mission Bay. One woman was a lymphoma patient who could barely speak.
There were also several people who suggested that the project would be bad for San Francisco’s black community.
“You don’t understand the problems of black people in this country. We have black supes, but you don’t understand,” said Charles Walker, an 82-year-old World War II veteran.
“I fought for this fucking country,” Walker told me outside the chamber. “Only to come back and find a black man couldn’t get a job in San Francisco.”
He sees the stadium as yet another concession to interests that want to build around the city’s southeast side without benefiting the people who live there. Although the arena site is well north of Bayview, where Walker lives, critics fear it could interfere with the operations of the T-Third Street Muni line and transit between the southeast neighborhoods and UCSF.
Cynics (and Nevius) accuse the MBA of hustling up a phony grassroots movement for its own purposes. Walker would probably give you an earful if you suggested that. But in the end, it didn’t matter: Warriors boosters easily outnumbered the malcontents, and the opposition was flattened by the force of Warriors fever.
The board voted 10-0 to dismiss the challenge, removing the last legislative stumbling block between the team’s San Francisco dreams and reality.
All signs point to a lawsuit as the next opposition move. There’s little doubt the MBA can tie up the matter if they continue to put their minds and resources toward it, but Tuesday was the day they lost the PR battle, if indeed they were ever in it to begin with.
You can fight City Hall if you like, but come between a town and its dreams of NBA glory and you’ll lose 10-0 every time.
Meanwhile, Tuesday also marked the return of left-wing stalwart Aaron Peskin to the board seat he previously held from 2001-2009. Fresh from a retreat in the Himalayas, Peskin was sworn in just before the meeting and then recused himself from the arena vote on the grounds that he hadn’t had time to study the relevant materials.
Presumably, he also knew that it didn’t make a lick of difference one way or the other anyway.
Peskin gave a brief address to the board, during which he turned to direct a comment to Mayor Ed Lee, only to find the mayor had already slipped out.
Let that awkward moment be a harbinger of the two men’s political futures together.