In a decision marred by confusion and frustration, the Planning Commission narrowly passed the Henry Mayo expansion to the City Council on a 3-2 vote. It will now be up to Bob Kellar, TimBen Boydston, Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean and Frank Ferry to decide once and for all.
It wasn’t an easy ride through the Planning Commission, with Henry Mayo and its partner G&L Realty facing staunch opposition from community members that opposed such a large scale expansion.
But Tuesday night, the commission passed three resolutions.
The first was one that recommended the City Council certify the final Environmental Impact Report. The commission passed this with a 3-2 vote. Diane Trautman and Dennis Ostrom were the dissenters.
The second resolution recommended that the City Council approve the Master Plan/Conditional Use Permit, as revised November 21st. The revisions removed one medical office building from the plan. Again the vote was 3-2 with Trautman and Ostrom being the ones to vote no.
Ostrom specified with both of the first two resolutions that he is voting no because he wants to see a study done that would find out if any other medical institutions are considering a potential move into Santa Clarita, and if they could choose a setting that would better serve the residents of Santa Clarita. This, he said, would eliminate the speculation that Henry Mayo was the only medical center that plans on operating in Santa Clarita.
It was added to the second resolution however, that a separate study that has already been requested by Councilman Bob Kellar would be made to include the sort of information that Ostrom requested.
But again, Trautman and Ostrom made it clear that they would not vote to recommend an action that they were not fully informed about.
The third resolution was one that denied the Developer Agreement. The Developer Agreement would have effectively handcuffed the city after the plan’s passage. The commission voted unanimously to deny it.
So the Master Plan minus the Developer Agreement will go before the City Council. The date is not yet set, although it has been delayed pending the completion of Kellar’s requested study, which would likely put it in May or June.
After the vote, opponents of the magnitude of the expansion voiced disappointment. The main cause of this was that over 120 pages of revised documents were released to the commission and the public only on Friday, and they felt that it was not a sufficient amount of time to review its contents.
David Gauny, for Smart Growth SCV requested that the commission postpone their decision for two weeks to also allow for the public to prepare a response. That was not granted.
So is it smooth sailing for the Henry Mayo Expansion? Don’t count on it.
Now the Council will hear from the public and weigh the issue. And while some of the confusion in the agreement has been cleared up in the Planning Commission, there are still some issues that are cloudy at best.
For example, one report says that there are two intersections in which the traffic increases could not be mitigated without acquiring property that the applicant does not currently own. This is a major concern of opponents, who fear eminent domain.
There is also a debate over whether or not Henry Mayo will be charging for parking. Many fear that if there is a charge for parking it would prompt hospital visitors to park on residential streets near the hospital to avoid paying.
Commissioner Bill Kennedy says that there is nothing in the plan that says Henry Mayo will charge for parking.
David Gauny pointed to G&L’s website, which he says shows that parking revenues are a visible part of their operations.