UCSF pegs Warriors arena support on traffic plan

University of California at San Francisco supports the construction of an 18,000-seat multi-use arena for the Golden State Warriors as long as there is secure access to its newly built medical center across from the proposed arena in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood, UCSF officials said today.

Barbara French, vice chancellor of university relations at UCSF, said today — the final day for comments on the arena’s draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report — that there needs to be a contingency plan in place should traffic get out of control and hinder access to medical care and patient safety.

French said that while the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay supports construction of the new arena overall, “We have remaining concerns” and that it’s important that the UCSF community voice those concerns before it’s too late.

Mindy Magnusson, a Marin County resident whose daughter is receiving cancer treatment at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, located across the street from the proposed arena site, said she already schedules her daughter’s hospital appointments to not hit game day traffic at AT&T Park, the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark located not far away from Mission Bay.

But when her daughter unexpectedly had a fever on a recent Friday, Magnusson had to rush her daughter to the hospital and they got stuck in severe Giants traffic.

Magnusson said that when her daughter gets a fever, “it becomes an emergency” and getting her to the hospital is incredibly difficult on game days. She expressed concern that on days when both the Warriors arena and the Giants stadium hold events, traffic could get much worse.

Magnusson said that as a parent caring for a child with cancer, she has a lot of worries, but “getting to the hospital shouldn’t be one of them.” French said that the medical center is seeking a binding agreement that would mitigate traffic issues and allow patients, patient families and patient care workers to get to the hospital.

When dual events are happening at AT&T Park and at the new arena’s proposed location at 16th and Third streets, some 60,000 fans can be expected to inundate the neighborhood.

Many of the events are expected to coincide with the medical center’s 7 p.m. shift switch, at which time roughly 1,500 health care workers will be entering or exiting the center.

The binding agreement that UCSF is demanding would ensure that there are tools for the city and the entertainment venues to implement should traffic reach unacceptable and potentially dangerous levels.

UCSF is suggesting a traffic trigger mechanism that would give the city the ability to manage the scheduling of events so that traffic is at acceptable levels. The trigger mechanism would be put into effect only after all mitigations had been attempted.

The agreement would ensure that future mayors, future UCSF chancellors and future management of the entertainment venues would have the tools and necessary funding to ensure medical care remains accessible, French said.

Such tools include dedicated roads for ambulances as well as private vehicles going to the hospital. More frequent public transportation and more parking control officers would be included in the contingency plan, French said.

She said the proposed construction of a Central Subway stop in the area, as well as a proposed 16th Street ferry, could greatly mitigate traffic.

French said a simple measure such as scheduling and staggering events at the two venues could ratchet down congestion in the area as well.

She said the binding agreement would make sure that funding is tied to all these tools and can properly address traffic concerns when large, dual or overlapping events occur.

The city and the Warriors have not yet addressed those issues, UCSF officials said in a statement today.

The Mission Bay Alliance, a group that is fighting against the arena’s construction at the proposed location, said that the mayor has threatened UCSF with economic harm should the hospital fail to support the arena, but French said, “The hospital has never been pressured by the city.” French said it appears the city and the Warriors are committed to negotiating with the hospital and setting up guidelines so that access to medical care comes before entertainment events.

A petition has been started by UCSF to support their demand for a binding agreement and can be viewed at www.winwinsf.com.