Mission Bay Alliance and Jennifer Wade Sue UCSF Chancellor Hawgood over Illegal Agreement with the Warriors
Community representatives including Jennifer Wade, the mother of a critically ill child who relies on UCSF's Children's Hospital, and a public interest group called the Mission Bay Alliance, filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Alameda County today, arguing that the University of California at San Francisco ("UCSF") illegally signed an agreement with the Golden State Warriors that would give away state property to private parties and pose potentially grave health and safety dangers to Bay Area residents.
Parents of critically ill children fear that the Warriors arena, located a mere 1,000 feet from the UCSF emergency room, could block access to life-saving care. "My son Magnus is six years old," said Jennifer Wade, an Assistant Professor of Biology who previously earned her doctorate at UCSF. "Magnus has a congenital heart defect. His condition means that, in addition to regular treatment, he often needs emergency care at a moment's notice. It terrifies me to think about being caught in traffic, unable to bring Magnus to the hospital. Magnus is alive today because of a series of heart surgeries performed by UCSF doctors. I filed this lawsuit because I can't believe that the Chancellor would allow the Warriors to build their arena next to the hospital."
The Chancellor and UCSF initially criticized the proposed arena and formally expressed their concerns in at least four demand letters, citing problems with noise, traffic, safety, and hospital access. "It's not clear why the Chancellor changed course or whether he was forced to do so by city officials. But the Mission Bay Alliance felt compelled to protect the vitality of one of the country's most distinguished and innovative institutions of Medicine and Life Sciences," said Dr. William Rutter, who joined the UCSF faculty in 1968 and helped create the Mission Bay campus. The lawsuit alleges inappropriate behavior from a number of public officials including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. According to the complaint, Mayor Lee threatened to retaliate against UCSF if it continued its opposition to the proposed Warrior's stadium.
Represented by David Boies and the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, plaintiffs also believe that the agreement between UCSF and the Warriors violates state law because UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood lacked authority to negotiate or sign the agreement without the approval of the UC Board of Regents, who have not expressed support for the project, and lacked authority to give away public property. "I believe that the Chancellor overstepped his authority here," said Richard Snyder, a former adjunct professor at UC Hastings School of Law, who now serves on the board of Mission Bay Alliance. "It is my understanding that Chancellor Hawgood cannot gift valuable property rights belonging to the University of California, and certainly not without the Regents' approval."
The Chancellor's agreement with the Warriors also commits UCSF to "actively and publicly support" the construction and operation of the arena. "The Chancellor not only signed an agreement that threatens the future of the university, but he also sought to silence opposition from UCSF's faculty, staff, and supporters," said Jeanne Robertson, who served as the Chairman of the UCSF Foundation and has joined the effort to stop the arena construction in Mission Bay.
Dozens of concerned citizens spoke out against the arena project in a hearing before the Board of Supervisors on December 8, 2015, and hundreds more sent letters criticizing the project to the Board of Supervisors. Among its detractors are many UCSF faculty members, staff and Children's Hospital nurses who are concerned about traffic, patient care, and access to the emergency care center and prenatal facilities.
"California law imposes careful limits on leaders like Chancellor Hawgood and others," said Josh Schiller, a partner at Boies Schiller, and Flexner LLC, who represents the Alliance. "The Chancellor can't give away UCSF's valuable property rights, which belong to all Californians, and he can't sign agreements relinquishing the University's rights to protect itself from the arena in the future. Such actions are not only bad for UCSF and the patients who rely on its medical facilities—they're illegal."
About the Mission Bay Alliance
The Mission Bay Alliance is a coalition of UCSF stakeholders, donors, faculty, physicians, nurses and the working men and women of San Francisco who are concerned about the impact of the proposed Golden State Warriors' stadium on the future of the vibrant community and medical campus at Mission Bay. The Alliance has joined a coalition of world-renowned scientists from UCSF, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the California Nurses Association in calling the proposed Warriors' arena a "disaster" for Mission Bay. For more information about the Mission Bay Alliance, visit www.missionbayalliance.org