Lawmakers making side deals on Hollywood high-rises, Warriors arena

Lawmakers negotiating side deals on Hollywood highrises, Warriors stadium

With Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders negotiating differences over the budget, a side issue has emerged over extending special handling of two controversial developments: a $200-million mixed-use project in Hollywood and a new arena for the Warriors basketball team in San Francisco.

Brown approved a streamlined environmental review for the 8150 Sunset Blvd. project in Hollywood in April 2014 and the same expedited process for the Warriors project in Mission Bay three months ago.

That streamlined process was created by legislation in 2011 that recognizes projects costing more than $100 million that create significant numbers of jobs and abide by tough environmental standards. The bill streamlines the California Environmental Quality Act process by requiring that courts take no more than 175 days to decide environmental challenges to specific projects and lawsuits start in the court of appeal.

However, to qualify for an expedited process, the two projects must complete their environmental studies by Jan. 1, 2016, and state officials say it appears they need more time.

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said legislative leaders and the Brown administration are negotiating the language for the deadline extension to be included in a budget trailer bill.

“The reason it would be needed is without a slight modification to the dates, a project like the Warriors’ project would end up paying a penalty for the good work and the time it took to do it, which includes engaging the community and bringing along community support,” Leno said in voicing support for an extension for both projects.

With an extension, “they wouldn’t pay a price for not having completed their EIR certification," he said.

The Hollywood project involves two buildings, including a 16-story high-rise, that will include 249 apartments, as well as commercial, retail and restaurant space. The Warriors are proposing an 18,000-seat arena for Mission Bay, adjacent to UC San Francisco.

Opponents of the Warriors project say they oppose what they see as a “backroom deal’’ being worked out in Sacramento.

“The Mission Bay Alliance believes the city and the Warriors are using the fast-track process because the arena proposal is fatally flawed and cannot stand up to public scrutiny,” said Sam Singer, a consultant for the alliance. “By seeking an extension, it demonstrates the city and Warriors are in deep trouble and cannot meet an overly optimistic and unrealistic timeline.”

He said if an extension is granted, more time should also be provided for the public to comment on the project.

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