UC San Francisco will support a proposed Golden State Warriors basketball arena across the street from its Mission Bay hospitals if The City agrees to a specific plan addressing traffic concerns in the area.
Such was the sentiment of UCSF leaders Monday, the last day to file comments with the Planning Department in response to the draft environmental impact report for the 18,064-seat arena, which would sit on 11 acres of land across from the university’s three new hospitals at Third and 16th streets.
The crux of UCSF’s ultimatum is that there must be an agreed upon plan among the school, city and team to address traffic concerns when simultaneous or overlapping events occur at the site and nearby AT&T Park, which university officials said could bring up to 60,000 people to Mission Bay. The San Francisco Giants baseball team plays at AT&T Park.
“UCSF’s support is contingent on securing this binding agreement,” Barbara French, vice chancellor of university relations, said at a news conference at UCSF’s children’s hospital Monday. “We are committed to sitting down and continuing to work with the Warriors and The City … to work out this final piece of the puzzle to ensure the traffic generated by dual events does not hamper important access to the hospital.”
The university has dubbed its strategy the “Win-Win SF Plan,” which outlines the criteria that must be met for UCSF’s continued support. The plan for managing traffic in the long term would be between the school, city and Warriors.
In addition to a real-time traffic management strategy during events at both AT&T Park and the proposed arena, UCSF is calling for a mechanism for managing scheduling to ensure patients and staff can still access the hospitals.
“We’re suggesting that The City has the authority and the power to manage these dual large events as a way to help mitigate the flow of traffic,” French said.
There must also be a means for ensuring the agreement is followed in the coming years, UCSF officials said.
In the draft environmental report, city planners outlined nearly $40 million in transit improvements slated for Mission Bay that are aimed to curb traffic congestion created in part by the proposed arena. That includes purchasing new Muni light-rail vehicles, allowing crossover tracks for the vehicles to pass on the T-Third Street line, and extending the adjacent Muni platform near the arena.
Meanwhile, the Mission Bay Alliance group that is vehemently against the arena submitted its own response to the draft environmental report Monday, highlighting what it deems are “fatal flaws” in building a multiuse facility across from UCSF Medical Center.
“There is no way that a major American hospital can co-exist with an 18,500-seat arena across the street from it that has exactly 200 parking spaces,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for the alliance. “This is the project that will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of San Francisco.”
Major concerns for the group — which is led by former UCSF officials but is not affiliated with the university — includes noise, air pollution and traffic. The alliance in its filing identified dozens of concerns with the draft environmental report, namely that it doesn’t paint a complete picture of potential traffic impacts and that some data is outdated.
Also on Monday, the alliance identified two letters between UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood and Mayor Ed Lee intended to demonstrate that UCSF was allegedly threatened with increased fees and taxes by The City if the hospital did not support the arena.
But university officials were quick to correct that claim Monday.
“UCSF wasn’t threatened,” French wrote in an email to the San Francisco Examiner through a proxy. “The mayor’s office and the Warriors are working constructively with us and we’re pleased with the progress of talks.”
Still, the alliance maintained Monday that both a lawsuit and ballot measure could still be used to try to stop the arena.
A final draft of the environmental report is expected to be released in the fall.