Ensuring emergency vehicles can navigate traffic around the future home of the Golden State Warriors, Chase Center arena, is Mayor London Breed’s “responsibility.”
That’s a concern voiced by Marc Benioff, the prominent CEO of Salesforce and philanthropist, who in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner on Monday added his voice to those worried about the traffic that the new center will bring after it opens next month.
Benioff cited a San Francisco Fire Department emergency vehicle drill that showed at least one ambulance arriving at Chase Center arena in more than double the average time it takes to arrive at emergency in other parts of The City.
The drill was exclusively reported by the Examiner earlier this month.
On Monday, arriving for his “first”-ever tour of Chase Center, Benioff said he was concerned enough to forward the news story about the lagging ambulance arrival time to Mayor London Breed herself.
“When I saw that I escalated that to The Mayor’s Office,” Benioff said. “The mayor will have to take responsibility there.”
Benioff was particularly concerned because just a stone’s throw from Chase Center lies the hospital that bears his name — UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital— and serves as an emergency center for children.
“There’s a children’s hospital across the street,” Benioff said. Speaking of The City in relation to Chase Center, he added, “They need to make sure they get the traffic there right.”
Mayor London Breed was unavailable to respond to Benioff’s remarks, but her spokesperson Jeff Cretan said the mayor formed a working group “months ago” to address these issues before the ambulance testing results were revealed.
“Her departments have been working with the Warriors and neighborhood stakeholders and will continue to do so after Chase Arena opens,” Cretan said.
San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Jonathan Baxter confirmed the Chase Center has its own medical response personnel, much like the San Francisco Giants have at Oracle Park.
But Benioff’s concern is not so much for Chase Center, but for emergency vehicles responding from elsewhere in The City to the Mission Bay neighborhood, or navigating children in medical emergencies to UCSF.
The July emergency vehicle response test simulated a one-alarm fire at Chase Center and found that it took one ambulance 24 minutes to travel from downtown to Chase Center Arena.
That’s more than double the average response time for similar calls in San Francisco.
Other vehicles in the test did better, but unlike the ambulance that encountered heavy traffic coming in from downtown, those emergency vehicles started out at a fire station only blocks away.
Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson told the fire commission in August that “there are definitely some traffic challenges” in the Mission Bay neighborhood.
Benioff also noted Monday that Chase Center’s location across the street from UCSF was a plan he himself suggested.
When he read in local news that Warriors owner Joe Lacob and Warriors President Rick Welts were having difficulty with neighbors protesting the new arena being placed along the Embarcadero waterfront, Benioff said he contacted the pair directly.
“I call them up and said, ‘come over to my house,’” Benioff said.
Salesforce owned the land and Benioff told the pair he’d sell it to them, which he did for a reported $150 million.