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Home » Santa Clarita News » Next Round Of Hospital Debate Begins

Next Round Of Hospital Debate Begins

Henry Mayo/G&L Realty campus expansion takes center
stage at City Council again.

ImageOver the last four years, Henry Mayo and G&L Realty have
been pursuing a master plan for expansion on their existing campus, located on
McBean Parkway at the intersection of Orchard Village Rd. Consistent pressure
by a group of residents called Smart Growth SCV and City Council/Planning
Commission requests have resulted in downgrade of the size and scope of the
project. 

 

Tuesday evening, after a revision of the project’s
Environmental Impact Report, the Santa Clarita City Council held a public
hearing which launched the debate into what some anticipate could be the final
stage.

 

When the construction plan for the Henry Mayo campus was originally
proposed in 2004, it included the addition of 583,000 square feet over the
course of a 25 year Master Plan period. Two new hospital inpatient buildings,
six medical office buildings and five parking structures made up the plan.

 

Opponents, led by Smart Growth SCV, argued that the plan and
its accompanying Development Agreement did not guarantee that actual hospital
inpatient buildings would be constructed and that the plan’s size would
overwhelm the campus and create a traffic nightmare on McBean
Parkway correctable only by removing five homes in
the area to extend traffic lanes.

 

Tuesday, the fruits of a four-year debate were unveiled, and
a revised plan was detailed.

 

Here are the new or revised features:

 

  • The Master Plan time frame has been reduced to 15 years.
  • The total square footage of the campus expansion was reduced
    from 583,000 to 340,000.
  • The new plan includes one hospital inpatient building, three
    medical office buildings and four parking structures, one of which fully
    subterranean.
  • The hospital campus will provide a small section of their
    property to be used in a re-alignment of McBean
    Parkway, which City staff believes will mitigate
    the increased traffic congestion caused by the project.
  • The total number of parking spots at build out of the
    project now number 2,231. According to City staff that provides 41 more spaces
    than currently required for the entire campus by current Santa Clarita codes.
  • 2 helipads are included in the plan; one to sit atop the
    first parking structure and the other to adorn the rooftop of the hospital
    inpatient building. Only one helipad would be used during normal
    operation.   

 

A revision was also made to the Development Agreement, which
is on appeal after originally being struck down by the Planning Commission
nearly two years ago. Perhaps the most striking change is a new stipulation
that requires Henry Mayo to submit plans to the state of California
for the new inpatient building before a building permit for the second medical
office building can be issued. Furthermore, the agreement demands that a
foundation be laid and steel be in the air for the new inpatient building
before permits can be issued for medical office building three.

 

“This is not a small investment,” Henry Mayo CEO Roger
Seaver told the City Council, in an effort to explain how the conditions do guarantee
that an inpatient building will be constructed.

 

The Development Agreement stops short of a separate
guarantee in writing, as no facilities are required to be built, although the
requirements do prevent the two additional medical office buildings from taking
shape without some progress on a new hospital.

 

ImageAnother new aspect in the Development Agreement precludes
any use of residential eminent domain to mitigate any traffic problems caused
by the project. 

 

“I think we have the right plan for the right hospital at
the right time,” Seaver said.

 

Over 30 supporters of the Henry Mayo/G&L plan
participated in the Council meeting, urging the council to approve the plan as
quickly as possible.

 

On the other side the issue, a large number of opponents
also shared their thoughts.

 

Several speakers admonished the plan for not specifically
guaranteeing that a hospital expansion would be built as the result of
approval. Despite the conditions for which G&L Realty can pursue medical
office buildings two and three, the opponents are asking that no medical office
buildings are built before the new hospital facilities can be guaranteed.

 

“There is no hospital actually committed,” said Tony
Newhall.

 

Another issue brought up by the opposition is a shortage of
operating rooms at the existing hospital. Currently, Henry Mayo is building
more operating rooms, however some opposing speakers worried that the hospital
will still have an operating room shortage after the addition and they fear
that the construction will delay any further medical expansions.

 

Henry Mayo CEO Roger Seaver responded to the operating room
deficiency by saying that 60% of the hospital’s surgeries are outpatient
surgeries, and therefore can be held in a facility like a medical office
building. He went on to say that the four operating rooms in the main hospital
are not at capacity, however he admitted that they are inconvenient to
schedule.

 

 

Approval of the plan was not set to be voted on during
Tuesday night’s meeting. Instead, City staff recommended that the Council give
their feedback on the newly revised plan after hearing applicant testimony and
public comment.

 

After some questions, the City Council did vote to approve
the recommendation by staff.

 

In doing that, the plan will now move to a second hearing,
to be held at a special meeting on November
19th, 2008.

 

To read more about what else happened at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, click here.

Next Round Of Hospital Debate Begins

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