Wednesday, April 2, 2008

UCSF Deal Buys Touro More Time

UCSF Deal Buys Touro More Time
Universities Herald Pact to Collaborate on Cancer Center
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 04/02/2008

In furthering its plans for a cutting-edge cancer treatment center on Mare Island, Touro University officials announced Tuesday the University of California at San Francisco has agreed to serve as the clinical operator.

The Vallejo City Council welcomed the news enthusiastically as it granted Touro more time to finalize planning documents for the proposed 125,000-square-foot medical center at G Street and Azuar Drive.

"Now that Barry Bonds is gone, we have Touro to hit home runs for us," Councilman Tom Bartee said.

Likewise, Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes said cancer center and Touro's plans for Mare Island's north end will help generate jobs and revenue.

"I don't think the community has been this excited about a project for a long time," said Councilwoman Joanne Schivley.

Touro's current exclusive right to negotiate an agreement for the Mare Island north end area expires Saturday.

Touro Vice President Richard Hassel said the center will be a world class medical center which will be aided greatly by UCSF serving as the operator.

UCSF is known across the country and has the qualifications and licenses necessary to operate a facility using advanced treatment technology, Hassel said.

The cancer center will be one of the nation's first to use combined particle beam therapy.

Council members gave Touro a 60- to 120-day extension to finalize its cancer center plans. In June, Touro and city planners should have completed a land acquisition agreement, and a separate agreement spelling out development entitlements, city officials said.

Mayor Osby Davis was on a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. in which he is scheduled to meet with top level U.S. Navy officials to urge swift transfer of Mare Island lands.

Councilmembers also granted an 18- to 21-month extension for Touro's "university village" plans for the remainder of the north end.

While Touro has proposed development plans for the entire 191-acre north end, the cancer center will move ahead of the university village plans. The latter would include student and facility housing, bookstores and cafes, a hotel and other amenities.

In granting more time, council members and several speakers urged city staff, and officials from Touro University and Lennar Mare Island to work together, particularly on road and other infrastructure improvements.

"This is a great opportunity but I'm very concerned with who's going to pay for infrastructure," said Mare Island resident Wendell Quigley.

Of particular concern to Quigley and others is a possible increase in commercial traffic on Azuar Drive, which is near Mare Island's residential area, he said.

Bartee said Railroad Avenue, not Azuar, should be the island's main entry area.

Touro Mare Island, LLC chief executive officer Bruce Lang said the island's traffic plans are being evaluated carefully, and added Touro will spend $30 million on infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, McCue said trucks and other commercial traffic were never intended to go on Azuar past the houses.

• Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 707-553-6832.

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