R. Miller

R. Miller

Potrero Hill residents wearing the Save-The-Hill t-shirts at a packed Kaiser meeting held at Daniel Webster cafeteria last month.

June 2013

Kaiser Permanente Floats Revised Plans for Proposed Development

Keith Burbank

Kaiser Permanente shared its plans for a new development at 16th and Mississippi streets at an open house last month, drawing a crowd of San Franciscans opposed to and in support of the project, as well as those who want it sited in Bayview. Groups representing these three perspectives came wearing t-shirts expressing their views, as residents crowded Daniel Webster Elementary School’s auditorium to view information boards and speak with Kaiser representatives. 

“All the people who are against it, they don’t live here,” said Joey D’Angelo, homeowner association president at 999 16th Street, next door to the planned development. D’Angelo related how a building resident’s car was recently stolen, but after the thieves were unable to drive it more than a block because it was in ill-repair, they abandoned it in the middle of the street, where police found it. “The crime is out of control,” D’Angelo said. "The crime is so bad, we would welcome a nuclear power plant in lieu of the status quo. Anything would be a welcome

improvement!"

But Hunters Point resident Christina Sandoval, of Neighbors United for Medical Equity, said the project needs to be located in Bayview. “It’s a good proposal,” she said. But, “it needs to come to the Bayview.” According to Sandoval, Hill residents don’t want the project, which they fear will cause traffic congestion and parking problems, non-issues for Bayview residents because they’re used to managing congestion and parking related to Candlestick Park.

Sandoval had heard that roughly one-third of Bayview-Hunters Point’s population are Kaiser members, compared with one-twentieth of Hill residents. However, based on Kaiser data, about one-quarter of the population in the 94124 zip code are Kaiser members, and roughly one-fifth of those in 94107 rely on the health care provider. 

Bayview-Hunters Point and Hill residents currently must travel to the Kaiser facilities on Geary Boulevard or in South San Francisco to receive services. Sandoval thought Candlestick Park might be a good location for the new development, and believes that job opportunities created by Kaiser would benefit Southside residents, including her possibly, as she has medical training. “This would be a great opportunity for me,” Sandoval said. 

Walden Development owns the propery on which the project would be located, which spans 3.5 acres and currently houses the Cor-o-van building. The development proposal includes residential and medical complexes. The medical component would feature outpatient services, such as pediatrics, physical therapy and dermatology. The residential element would consist of 189 units.

According to Kaiser media relations specialist, Joe Fragola, the health care provider expects to see 2,700 patients per day at the new facility. Save the Hill member, Yvonne Gavre, a Mariposa Street resident who opposes the project, said the nearby University of California San Francisco (UCSF) campus isn’t even fully built-out, and the population density in the area is already high. The adjacent roads are so snarled during commute times that Gavre said that she can’t rely on 16th and 17th streets to get to work on time. 

Arcadia Smails, another Save the Hill supporter, said traffic and parking congestion will worsen after UCSF opens its Children’s Hospital. And people already park on the Hill to attend Giants games at AT&T Park, she asserted. 

In the face of community opposition, Kaiser has made some changes to the project. Building heights have been lowered, to five stories and 68 feet high, after the company dropped plans to put mechanical equipment on the roofs. According to Save the Hill, that change was “the only design modification worth noting.” 

Kaiser also reduced the number of parking spaces to 434, from 579. “We believe that’s the right size,” said Cameron White, Kaiser Permanente senior project manager. “We’ve carefully designed this to minimize congestion.” According to White, an extension of Owens Street will improve the traffic situation. In addition, she said that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is proposing to route the 22-bus along 16th Street, going right by the Kaiser offices, and a Kaiser shuttle system will serve the new complex. Fragola said it was too early in the process to identify the shuttle’s route. 

Randy Wittorp, public affairs director for Kaiser’s San Francisco Medical Center, said the health care provider selected the proposed location because it’s more central to Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, and the Mission than Bayview. When the area’s population grows, so too will Kaiser’s patient base, he said. Wittorp pointed out the proposed project would have 1.3 acres of open space, which Kaiser would maintain in perpetuity. “The spirit of it [the open space] is it reflects a wellness environment,” said Antonia Bava, Antonia Bava Landscape Architects, a consultant on the project. One portion of the open space would consist of an east-west corridor running between the medical offices and the residences. Called Potrero Plaza, the area would be roughly 15,800 square feet. A separate space, Pedestrian Way, would extend between 16th and 17th streets, connecting to Potrero Plaza. That area would be roughly 12,000 square feet. 

According to Wittorp, Kaiser would make a conference room within the medical complex available to community groups. Other amenities include a ground floor healthy education department, with a healthy living store open to the public. People would be able to talk with a health educator about their concerns, such as quitting smoking. And anyone in the community would be able to take free classes offered by Kaiser, for such things as managing stress. The ground floor would also house a pharmacy, optical services and a locally-staffed cafe.

Mississippi Street resident Mark Hurley, who has been a Kaiser member for more than 40 years, said he likes the project. According to Hurley, the area needs more medical services and he can’t argue with the complexes’ height because it won’t take any views away. “I’m really in favor it,” he said. 

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