UCSF to Develop Psychiatric Center in Dogpatch

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Last month, University of California, San Francisco staff and almost one-dozen Dogpatch residents and property owners held tense discussions about the university’s proposed new psychiatric center, as well as plans to develop student housing.  Community members are unhappy with the psychiatric center’s proposed location, 2130 Third Street, which is now home to a building and vacant lot. They asserted UCSF broke an implied promise not to situate significant facilities south of Mariposa Street.  Residents were more accepting of having medical and graduate students as neighbors.

At the first of two meetings, held at UCSF’s Campus Planning office, Janet Carpinelli, Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA) member, said she joined UCSF Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC) to help keep the university’s growth “under control. We are just a little neighborhood association. It’s an uphill battle. I want this design to work. Absolutely I do not want the Mission Bay look,” she said.

“Some of us are concerned Third Street is becoming a canyon of tall buildings,” said Joel Bean, a resident of the 700 block of Illinois Street.

According to J.R. Eppler, Potrero Boosters president, Potrero Hill residents are concerned about UCSF’s growth beyond Mission Bay. “There’s UCSF’s campus on Mission Bay and now Dogpatch on one side of the hill and construction on the general hospital  on the other side. UCSF employees have not been using the employee parking lots the University has provided,” he said.

Eppler said Hill residents are concerned that UCSF employees will use the neighborhood “as a parking lot” and intend to “actively engage with the university about construction at SFGH, Mission Bay, and Dogpatch.”

Over the course of this year, UCSF will hold a series of community meetings and design workshops focusing on the center, which will be called the Child, Teen & Family Center.  A developer will be selected this month, initial design and California Environmental Quality Act studies will be launched in March, and UC Regents approval is expected in the fall.  UCSF hopes to have the facility ready to open in the spring 2019.

According to Dr. Matthew State, professor and chair of UCSF’s department of psychiatry, the center will provide outpatient care and conduct research on neurology, child and adolescent mental health, developmental disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He said patients won’t be isolated from the community. “We really want something that doesn’t scream ‘institution,’” said State.

State said the facility will provide comprehensive care for children, teens, and adults. “We want to make this truly patient-centered,” he said. “A kid with ASD will be able to receive pediatric care and see his or her psychologist all in one place. We want to create a center for services for the folks who are our patients already.”

State said the center expects to work with the City on mental health prevention and community outreach efforts. Center researchers will be encouraged to breakdown separations between medicine, pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry. “Old practices have led to poorer outcomes and higher costs,” said State.  “This (will) not be a mental health hospital. Inpatient services will remain in place at Mount Zion and at Parnassus. We want to make this a building that is very welcoming. One that feels like a medical office building and a very nice one.”

According to Catalyst, UCSF Foundation’s newsletter, a $50 million gift to construct the center consisted of the donation of the 2130 Third Street parcel and $25 million, both from the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund. The Fund is a philanthropic organization that has a mission to aid vulnerable populations. Both of the Fund’s namesakes have close ties to the UCSF. Lisa Pritzker serves on the advisory board of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine; John Pritzker is an executive councilmember of the university, a body which serves as a business advisory board to the medical center’s chief executive officer.

John Loomis, a Dogpatch resident and a professor of architecture and design at San José State University, said he came to the meeting partly to hear “a really compelling case as to why it belongs in residential Dogpatch.” Loomis said the center should be situated in Mission Bay. “The campus feels like a mouth with missing teeth. There are vast tracts of open land,” he said.

According to UCSF staff, the building will have two entrances, at 18th Street and Third Street. The university hasn’t yet decided how much open space the facility will feature. The building will contain a convening space for presentations. It won’t be a 24-hour facility, instead closing at about 7 p.m.

Michele Davis, assistant director of community relations for UCSF, said that in 2015 the university received a $20 million gift from the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund to conduct research on mood disorders. This philanthropy created two endowed professorships for the department of psychiatry and will help maintain the center’s researchers and clinicians. “Our academic mission, including training, is supported by the medical school, grants and contracts, and a relatively small amount of state funding,” said Davis. “Our clinical mission is supported by clinical revenue and UCSF Health. Both missions for psychiatry also require philanthropy. The project is fiscally sound as we continue to actively work on additional philanthropic opportunities.”

Dr. Dan Lowenstein, UCSF’s executive vice chancellor and provost, said new student housing will be constructed at 566, 590, and 600 Minnesota Street. The university plans to replace three aging warehouses with approximately 150 residential units, the ideal number of applicants that UCSF’s School of Medicine wants to accept each year.

“The greatest threat to our trajectory is what’s going on with the rising cost of living,” said Lowenstein. “Thirty-six percent of graduate applicants indicate housing costs are one reason for declining an offer of admission. We want to increase inventory and keep campus housing rates well below market, at about $2,300 for a one-bedroom unit.”

According to Don Rudy, deputy campus architect and associate director of capital projects for UCSF’s East Zone, the university is studying potential parking needs, but doesn’t plan on providing on-site parking on a per unit basis for students. UCSF is considering creating retail space close to student housing.

“We have a lot of development in the neighborhood and we’re pushing retail there,” said Carpinelli. “I’m not excited about you putting in retail when you’re saying you need student housing.”

Carpinelli said DNA wants to discuss Dogpatch’s housing situation with the Mayor’s Office.  “It’s a matter of them making some kind of a pot of money available. I think the City has to help out,” she said.

Dogpatch and Mission Bay residents and property owners can learn about UCSF’s Community Meetings at the University’s Community and Government Relations webpage at: https://www.ucsf.edu/cgr.