A rendering of the completed Chase Center, which is set to open this fall. (Courtesy of Chase Center)

Who needs cars? Aggressive transit plan for Chase Arena discourages driving

When Metallica plays at ear-splitting decibels in the soon-to-open Chase Center in September — the arena’s first-ever event — the thousands of concert goers won’t be humming “Enter Sandman” as they drive home to far-flung points across the Bay Area.

Instead, most will be head-banging on Muni, Caltrain, BART and ferries. At least, that’s according to The City’s plan.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted at its regular meeting Tuesday to approve new parking restrictions and metered parking around the Chase Center, with an emphasis on encouraging public transit to the venue.

“A lot of work was done to make transit the front door of access to Chase Arena,” Julie Kirschbaum, SFMTA director of transit, told the San Francisco Examiner.

Long-time San Francisco Giants fans may remember Muni shuttles that served Candlestick Park. Well, SFMTA is instituting two similar shuttles for Chase Center, one running down Van Ness Avenue from the waterfront and the other running directly from 16th Street BART.

Service on the T-Third streetcar will also get a boost, including a double-sized train platform to accommodate larger crowds, much like the one right outside Oracle Park. Muni train shuttles will also run from Embarcadero BART station for East Bay and South Bay travelers, and from West Portal, for those heading to Chase Center from San Francisco’s West Side.

And last but not least, Mayor London Breed is working with San Francisco Bay Ferry, Golden Gate Ferry and the Port of San Francisco to establish a temporary ferry landing between Piers 48 and 50, near the arena, which tentatively may open Oct. 1. The effort started when a nearby permanent ferry landing on 16th Street was delayed until 2021.

“When the mayor found out about the delay of the permanent landing, she directed her staff and departments to work on a temporary solution,” said Jeff Cretan, a spokesperson for The Mayor’s Office. “She’s glad to see this is going forward.”

While all of these transit options are on the table, parking may be more scant, the SFMTA Board of Directors were told Tuesday.

The board voted to approve parking changes that would introduce some metered parking along 16th Street and the waterfront for Chase Center events, which will charge $7 an hour during events only, much as with Giants games near Oracle Park. “No Parking” passenger loading zones and “No Stopping” zones were also established around the arena on portions of 16th Street and Warrior Way, some of which will become metered parking during the day to benefit local merchants.

Tom Maguire, director of the sustainable streets division at SFMTA, told the board this would take the focus off parking during Chase Center events.

“When there are no events there will be parking and that will help the local businesses there,” he said. “However when we switch over to our event plans, the streets will focus on loading not parking.”

And there will be up to 26 parking control officers nearby to manage the potential chaos of loading zones, he said.

The Chase Center does feature about 900 parking spaces underneath it, according to P.J. Johnston, a spokesperson for the Warriors. There will also be roughly 2,000 parking spaces at sites identified in the neighborhood within ten minutes of the arena.

That makes 2,900 parking spaces total for up to 18,000 attendees, while the median attendance of Warrior’s games is roughly 9,000 people, Johnston said.

“We’re working closely with The City to emphasize mass transit,” he told the Examiner. “We think it’s the most effective way to get to events at Chase Center.”

And although some recent news reports criticised the number of parking spaces, the proportion of parking offered actually is on par with, and perhaps exceeds, the amount of parking offered per-person at Oracle Park. There are roughly 3,700 parking spaces offered there — a little more than at Chase Center — but the number of attendees is far higher, with 43,000 seats available in the ballpark.

Johnston isn’t worried about getting to Chase Arena games. As a Sunset District resident, he knows exactly how he’ll do it.

“I’ll be going to West Portal Station and hopping on a train, it’ll drop me off right in front of Chase Center,” he said.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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