Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Council Looks for Updated Community Benefits in Hospital Expansion Project||
By Jonathan Friedman
December 9, 2016 -- No official action was taken Tuesday, but Santa Monica City Council members and residents addressed what they would like to see in a complex expansion project proposed by Providence Saint John's Health Center.
This project will be done over the next two decades as the hospital follows a path begun after a significant portion of the facility was destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The expansion is actually a larger project's second phase, with the first phase mostly completed in 2013. It will include nearly 800,000 square feet of development.
Among the features are the development of a "state-of-the-art medical care and research center in the community building" as described in the City staff report.
It will feature a new medical research facility for the John Wayne Cancer Institute along with "expanding ambulatory and acute care services and supporting health and wellness education in the community."
Also included is "a new and expanded" Child and Family Development Center and new visitor housing.
A framework for this project was negotiated in a 1998 development agreement. But times have changed, and council members would like updates to the agreement to reflect that.
"[The City should have] an eye toward modifying some of the benefits the community receives from Saint John's to reflect 21st century needs on a development agreement originally negotiated 20 years ago and not reflecting what we do," Councilmember Kevin McKeown said.
A major issue is parking. Saint John’s has proposed 2,750 parking spaces, including a structure on 20th Street and two subterranean garages.
"I am hopeful that we will find you do not need to build as much parking as you anticipate because we will have figured out a way to use other forms of transportation more frequently," Councilmember Gleam Davis said.
Among the community benefits the council would like included in an updated agreement would be a transportation management plan aimed at reducing car trips, shuttle to the nearby Expo line station and other neighborhood parking-related features.
The council is also asking for other benefits, including infant and family support programs, a mental health wing and affordable housing for the 10 multi-family residential units being replaced after their demolition during the project.
Finalizing these specifics is a long way away as the process begins toward the completion of a master plan. There will be many community meetings and hearings during this time
One thing that is definite is that there is almost no opposition to Saint John’s itself.
Numerous residents spoke about life-saving or at least life-altering procedures they have had there, and council members acknowledged the benefit of having the facility in Santa Monica.
"Having high-quality medical services available in town is really important," Councilmember Davis said. "But I also think having cutting-edge medical services is not just a question of civic pride, although that certainly is part of it."
She continued, "Creating an environment where these kinds of very sophisticated work is being done not only benefits the community because they benefit from the work, but it provides good paying jobs."
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