To be on the right side of history
Former San Francisco mayor Art Agnos is on a mission to stop the Golden State Warriors from despoiling San Francisco’s exquisite public property known as the Embarcadero. Agnos served as Mayor of San Francisco from 1988 to 1992. One of Agnos’s signature achievements was his leadership to demolish the double-decker freeway that ran across this stretch of property. It was an ugly eyesore that once removed, opened up today’s glorious waterfront, worth millions, and dotted with tourist and local attractions, such as the Farmer’s Market, Exploratorium, and numerous fine eating establishments. Now, it’s all under threat of being overshadowed by one of the largest boondoggles in the city’s history. Thankfully, Mayor Agnos is on the right side of history. Back in May of 2012, with current Mayor Ed Lee leading the charge, all City supervisors, including my own, Malia Cohen of District 10, signed a letter sent to the Golden State Warriors organization asking them to return to San Francisco “in time for the 2017 NBA season.” Flash forward to today where backdoor negotiations continue to proliferate between the Warriors, Ed Lee and his planning commissioners. An EIR is in the works to be released in the months ahead. The Golden State Warriors unveiled their updated design of the arena it seeks to build on Piers 30-32 back in May. While it has been scaled back, make no mistake. A new stadium would not only add to the city’s horrendous traffic congestion but also restrict public access to the waterfront, which we all enjoy now for free.
Let’s pour tons of concrete into San Francisco Bay
Mayor Agnos recently spoke at San Francisco’s Latino Democratic Club as part of his ongoing tour of the City’s various associations to share his urgent message. Let’s begin with a recap. To build this monstrosity, tons of concrete would be poured 50 feet into the Bay. Yes, the piers 30-32 are in sad shape and the costs of ultimately building a new arena could now top one billion dollars. Not just the stadium but also a retail area is planned that would take up 90,000 square feet. AT&T ballpark now attracts more than three million people a year. The Warriors real estate deal would bring in an added 2 + million visitors. And how does San Francisco’s public transportation system stack up against this onslaught of humanity? Warriors President and COO Rick Welts admitted in a recent debate on KQED radio that the city’s current transportation system won’t work for the arena. The current Warriors proposal offers the city a mere $14 million for a ‘transit impact fee.’ It is not clear how much of this fee would be spent directly on transit and /or dedicated to other priorities such as affordable housing. The fact is, Muni, as it currently stands, could NEVER support the impact of an additional 2 million people cramming the Embarcadero to watch a basketball game. It will cost the city $120 million to build the stadium foundation and the city would borrow that amount from the Warriors organization itself at an interest rate of 13% annually.
Mayor Ed Lee’s crowning legacy
Remember the hoopla and excitement over San Francisco’s hosting of the America’s Cup? It was supposedly going to net the City a treasure trove of new revenue. What happened? The America’s Cup Organizing committee fell short by the millions and still the City has not raised enough money to cover the costs of hosting this fiasco. The latest update from Jane Sullivan, spokeswoman for San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development is that the city is still stuck at just over the 16 million mark in terms of collections (22 million was approved by the Board of Supervisors for spending on the event). As a native and long-time resident of San Francisco, it’s galling to witness the ongoing manhattanization of my beloved city. Whatever bohemians existed back in the ‘60s and 70’s have surely gone the way of the Dodo and been replaced by a city that caters predominantly to the 1%. Probably because Mayor Ed Lee wants the Warriors stadium to be his crowning parting legacy to the city of San Francisco, the Golden State Warriors scratched Lee’s back and provided him with a $25,000 contribution. The money came as a “behested payment” for the mayor’s cup golf tournament. Lee hid the contribution for eight months during the lead-up to the time he announced the Warrior’s waterfront proposal.
Just who owns the Golden State Warriors?
It’s not Mother Teresa. It’s not Mahatma Gandhi. It’s not Nelson Mandela. Peter Guber of Mandalay Entertainment and his partner Joe Lacob own the organization. Mandalay Entertainment Group is a film and TV production group based out of Los Angeles. Peter also owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. To think that Guber’s top of mind is the welfare of San Francisco residents and those who are still clinging to live in a city that is now ranked as the 4th most expensive place to live in the United States is to live in fantasyland. Make no mistake about it. The Golden State Warriors proposal to build a new 12-story arena, plus the building of a 17-story condo tower and luxury hotel complex is one of the biggest commercial real estate development deals ever and those who support it do not have San Francisco’s best interest at heart. Piers 30-32 may be dilapidated for the time being but I’d rather be able to walk down the waterfront with unobstructed Bay views than be forced to look at a stadium. Don’t forget. AT&T park was approved by San Francisco voters back in 1996 by a razor thin margin. The realities of horrendous traffic and an inadequate public transportation infrastructure all came true when the ballpark finally opened for business.
Why not build a new arena at Candlestick Park?
So here’s a daring idea. Why not build a new basketball arena at Candlestick Park? It’s set to be blown up at the conclusion of the 2014 NFL season. 49er fans had no problem driving out to Candlestick. Why would they complain about doing so for the Warriors? We’ve got the 29-Sunset Muni line, which takes you directly to Candlestick. Yes, it won’t fully meet the needs of thousands of more sports fans trying to get to Candlestick but it is a vast improvement over desecrating the beauty that is our waterfront.
Oh, and about those jobs to be created by the Warriors? Let’s remind ourselves of the wonderful employment provided by our beloved San Francisco Giants. Hundreds of concession workers went on strike back in May in front of AT&T park because they make such a paltry amount of money for the work they do. Concession workers make on average $11,000 a year. Eager to go to work for the Warriors? Stop the Golden State Warriors proposed arena in San Francisco. This is not a NIMBY issue. It’s a land grab of epic proportions and NOT in the public interest of San Franciscans.