Parking crunch crimps growth at SF General

Parking at San Francisco General Hospital could soon get worse for patients and employees if a plan is not in place to figure out how the solve the parking situation, health officials said.

Health officials presented their dilemma to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Policy and Governance Committee last Friday seeking help from SFMTA staff to find solutions.

The Health Commission last Tuesday also passed a resolutions urging health officials to work collaboratively with the SFMTA find transportation and parking solutions for patients to access the hospital.

The hospital has been going through major renovations with a new hospital expected to open in December of this year and a proposed UCSF Research Building expected to open in 2019, said Kathy Jung, director of facilities and capital planning for the Department of Public Health.

Jung also said the hospital is planning to move its emergency care services from the south side to north side of campus, which will result in the loss of some parking:

“Opening the new hospital and the changes to the campus that will follow have significant impact to the supply and demand of parking at SFGH.”

The hospital is expected to have an increase in demand and higher staffing levels once the new facilities are open, said Jung.

A report from the Department of Public Health said if the UCSF Research Building gets approved, up to 130 parking spaces could be eliminated used by patients. Another 130 parking spaces or so will be eliminated once emergency care services moves.

Jung said the SFGH garage is already at peak capacity including valet parking. She said the hospital is looking at expanding the garage, but said that will still not be enough to meet future parking demands for patients and staff.

At least an additional 551 parking spaced would still be needed by 2020 and the number increases to 921 parking spaces needed post 2020.

SFTMA Board Director Joel Ramos said one way to get staff to take public transit to work instead of driving is for the hospital to subsidize public transportation as it does for parking for some hospital staff.

At least 67 percent of employees from the hospital drive to work or carpool, according to health officials.

Ramos said the parking problem at San Francisco General made him think about the University of California, San Diego hospital in La Jolla where they had a similar problem, but did not need to build a parking extension because the hospital started subsidizing transit passes for employees.

Ramos said he can also to relate to the parking problem, as he had to take his niece to San Francisco General six months ago. He said he had found two-hour parking, but had to continuously move his car.

He said he noticed other drivers not moving their cars asking himself where the enforcement was. He said the transit agency can also do a better job in enforcing parking supply in the area.

SFMTA Board Direct Cheryl Brinkman said she thinks SFMTA can solve this problem:

“All of the challenges you talk about are exactly the things we’re facing citywide.”

She added:

“I don’t feel like it’s as daunting as it is kind of is presented. I feel that this is solvable. We can do this.”

Jung said she plans to present to the same presentation full SFMTA Board of Directors at their March 17 meeting.