First the details. In 2003, the San Francisco’s Health Commission approved a plan to build a helipad on SF General. The target date for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was 2005. It still isn't ready. The idea behind the helipad is that SF General is the only Level 1 Trauma Center that doesn't have one. Proponents of the plan say that trauma victims have a better chance of surviving within one hour of the trauma and that a helipad could save time compared to ambulances trying to negotiate city traffic.

So here comes the battle. Neighbors don't like the idea because helicopters are loud and helicopters could crash. It could also mean lower property values. So a meeting on the issue in 2005 with the Board of Supes brought lots of nasty phone calls and letters and vociferous opposition. A web site, Stop the SF General Helipad, was set up which claimed that the helipad won't be used mainly for SF General but as a transportation hub to send patients to other hospital. That would be bad. They also point out that most people who get put on helicopters have insurance so are mainly rich, upper-middle class people and that would be doubly bad (although one wonders how it is determined what class a person is when the helicopter is called in. Does the trauma center check the insurance of the person before determining their mode of transportation?) And more people brought into SF General with good insurance would take beds and emergency services from people without insurance. We all know, of course, that the last thing we would want is a full hospital.

The EIR is supposed to come out this summer. Or that's the new plan. The reason for the delay is that, according to an environmental review officer for The City’s Planning Department, they've never done an EIR on a helipad.