An effort by San Francisco city officials and new owners of the Golden State Warriors basketball team to fast-track construction of a new arena on the city's waterfront slowed down Tuesday in a state Senate committee.
As proposed and approved by the Assembly, Assembly Bill 1273 would have had the Legislature bypass local and regional authorities to authorize use of publicly owned tidelands for the project, which also includes a large retail and office complex. Proponents say the project would generate new business for San Francisco and pay for improvement of a deteriorating block of piers.
However, the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee insisted that the decision on use of tidelands - without which the arena cannot proceed - would be made later in the project approval process by the State Lands Commission and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) after local studies and hearings.
"It's premature for us to make the decision at this time," the committee's chairwoman, Democrat Fran Pavley, told advocates, including the bill's author, San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting.
That means a slowdown and also gives project opponents - who include former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos - new venues to wage their campaign. The three-member State Lands Commission is composed of Gov. Jerry Brown's finance director, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom - who is also a former San Francisco mayor - and Controller John Chiang.
The BCDC, meanwhile, includes representatives of local governments surrounding San Francisco Bay, including those from Oakland and other East Bay communities who are opposed to moving the basketball team from Oakland to San Francisco, which was its original home. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was among those who spoke against AB 1273 Tuesday. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups also opposed fast-tracking approval of the tidelands use.
The proposed arena would be located on Piers 30 and 32, near the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park.