VA hospital eyes new expansion 

The veterans hospital that occupies dozens of acres in The City’s Outer Richmond district may be eyeing an expansion — in Mission Bay.

The San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center has long faced parking problems and had to battle complaints from neighbors.

At a recent meeting with neighbors, Medical Center Associate Director Ed Safdie said the institutional master plan has been delayed because officials have begun to consider the constraints of the current campus and are exploring all options for future expansion.

“We’re seriously looking at this campus,” he said. “We’re looking at access to our facility, our workload, the parking limitations in this area.”

He said that “for the first time,” officials are taking the master plan back to the drawing board to consider how best to address the limitations of the campus.

When Raymond Holland, member of neighborhood group Planning Association of the Richmond, asked if the organization was consulting with UC San Francisco, with which it is closely associated and which is the midst of building a new campus in Mission Bay, Safdie essentially confirmed the planning process.

“It wouldn’t be a mistake if you thought that,” he said.

Medical center spokeswoman Robin Flanagan said it was far too early to comment on details of how plans for the institution may change in the future.

“In preparing our institutional master plan, we realized our site limitations, and the director wants all options explored,” she said. “We’re looking at future endeavors that could happen, based on space needs.”

Holland said he is excited by the prospect that the VA hospital could expand elsewhere in The City, since the Outer Richmond has borne the brunt of the traffic and parking impact of that facility.

“I was very encouraged by what they were saying at the end of that meeting,” he said.

UCSF spokeswoman Kristen Bole said she couldn’t comment on the VA’s future plans.

Neighborhood groups filed a federal complaint about expansion the VA was making on its campus without consulting neighbors.

A 2008 federal settlement required the VA Medical Center be more transparent about its plans and complete an institutional master plan. That document must be complete by the end of this year.

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