With the official opening of the Warriors’ new home, the Chase Center, just a few weeks away, I’d like to take this moment to remind the Bay Area what an absolutely stupid idea it was to build this thing. For a town that likes to pride itself on being on the forefront of everything, San Francisco is irredeemably shortsighted when it comes to urban planning.
Remember, this is the city that thought building a double-decker freeway along the Embarcadero, to block the beautiful view of the Bay was a good idea. It’s the place that allowed the Leaning Tower of Frisco, aka the Millennium Tower to be built. It spent over a decade creating a transit center only to shut it down for repairs six weeks after it opened. San Francisco is a city that is furiously building housing, yet not proportionately bumping up mass transit to meet these needs.
Given this incredible propensity for screwing up huge projects, none of us should be surprised that the city went ahead with this absurdly placed arena, despite plenty of public outcry. We can thank the late Mayor Ed Lee, the man who so thoroughly gave the city over to billionaires, for pushing hard to make the Chase Center happen.
Putting a brand new arena in the heart of a city, that is itself the center of the second worst traffic region in the nation, is — to put it generously — extremely poor planning. Doing this 1.3 miles from a stadium where baseball games might be letting out concurrently is ludicrous. But doing all that, across from a children’s hospital, begs the question “Have these people lost their goddamn minds?”
Apparently they have. The Chase Center opens on September 6.
From when this arena was first announced, much of the opposition to it centered around not just the fact that we’ve somehow decided to make traffic even worse for 50+ extra days a year, but the question of “How can emergency vehicles get through.” What happens if your kid cracks her head open and needs to be rushed to Benioff Children’s Hospital when a game is letting out? Whenever this was brought up to the officials behind the project during construction, they just said something along the lines of “Trust us, we’ve got it figured out.”
Given that these are the same folks who said they had the Millennium Tower, and the Transbay Transit Center figured out, I was, ahem…less than optimistic. And unfortunately my apprehensions were correct. Earlier this month Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez reported in this paper that SFFD ran a drill to see how things would proceed in an emergency. It took an ambulance 24 minutes to reach the arena from downtown, more than twice the time it takes an ambulance to do similar calls in the rest of the city. And remember, this wasn’t even when a game was letting out or, for Christ’s sake, when two games were letting out.
Earlier this week Marc Benioff, the billionaire Salesforce CEO and philanthropist who put his name on the children’s hospital across from the arena and sold the Warriors the land it’s built on, expressed his concern about the frightening results of the SFFD drill. He told Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “When I saw that I escalated that to The Mayor’s Office. The mayor will have to take responsibility there.”
The Mayor’s Office has said they started a workforce to tackle this problem months ago. Like so many things, it appears that Mayor Breed is inheriting yet another problem kicked off by Ed Lee.
The thing that strikes me most about all this is that Benioff sold the land to the Warriors across the street from the children’s hospital with his name on it. And this has been an issue people have been talking about since 2015. I really respect Benioff’s philanthropy and his work around homelessness. Hell, he even seems like a guy who’d be fun to get a beer with, but — come on bruh. It’s not like this is the first time the idea has crossed his mind. He made $150 million when he sold the Warriors the land. He should at least take on some of the culpability for this himself.
And finally, as if all this wasn’t enough, the new Chase Center looks like a giant Roomba.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of The Examiner.