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Appeal Filed In Henry Mayo Decision

 

Smart Growth SCV, the main opposition to the proposed Henry Mayo Expansion plan, has appealed the Planning Commission's decision to recommend the plan for approval by the City Council. The following appeal was submitted with the $2,100 filing fee this week. 

 

The following appeal letter is in its original form. Its contents reflect the position if its author, and not necessarily KHTS AM 1220 Radio.    

 

February 21, 2007

Mayor McLean and Members of the City Council

City of Santa Clarita

23920 Valencia Blvd, Suite 300

Santa Clarita, CA 91355

 

APPEAL OF PLANNING COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION FOR CERTIFICATION

OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (SCH NO. 2004111149) AND APPROVAL

OF MASTER CASE 04-325 (MASTER PLAN / CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT 04-022)

FOR THE HENRY MAYO NEWHALL MEMORIAL HOSPITAL MASTER PLAN

Mayor McLean and Honorable Members of the City Council:

 

As a representative of Smart Growth SCV, an organization of more than 800 citizens

and business owners throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, I am formally appealing the

actions of our city’s planning commission in recommending approval of Master Case 04-

325 (Master Plan/Conditional Use Permit) and certification of the Environmental Impact

Report (SCH No. 2004111149) for the proposed G&L Realty/Henry Mayo expansion.

I. The planning commission’s findings in support of their resolution (Exhibit A of 07-

02) recommending approval of the Draft Conditions of Approval (04-022) are

flawed both materially and procedurally. These flaws include but are not limited to

the following:

 

a. Impacts are projected that do not include adequate mitigations as

required by law, including CEQA mandates. Certain studies, analysis

and mitigation are deemed “too speculative” and are thereby excused

from appropriate CEQA review. These include major impacts to traffic and

parking, as well as sewer and storm drains. This methodology of approval

or recommendation of approval is illegal.

 

b. Parking shortfalls do not include mitigations as mandated by CEQA.

A shared parking agreement (consistently rejected by the city) or an

additional parking structure is required to provide adequate parking as

defined in the UDC. The CUP promises this yet neither are in place or

proposed. This methodology of approval or recommendation of approval

is illegal.

 

c. The recommendation of approval was granted based on inaccurate

information. Future parking problems will be dealt with at the staff level,

not through a public hearing process as reported by the city staff at the

final commission hearing. These decisions typify the arbitrary and

capricious process employed throughout the hearing process.

 

d. CEQA requires disclosure of all revised impacts. Project revisions

were made by the applicant in an untimely manner which, to date and

despite community requests, have not included these disclosures as

mandated by CEQA. Thus, the current findings which form the basis of

the recommendation are in direct violation of CEQA mandates.

 

e. Recommendation is arbitrary and capricious and in violation of

numerous legal requirements. As the planning commission voted 3 to 2

to approve the master plan, they did so “subject to” a study, the scope of

which was redefined in the very same meeting. The study was not

available to the applicant, the general public, or the planning commission

itself; it is not yet even complete. A city planning commission may not

base its vote on any information other than what is in the public record.

 

f. Commission violated due process requirements, including but not

limited to noticing requirements under the Brown Act, when

rendering its decision on February 6, 2007. The public was granted

only two working days (Monday & Tuesday) to access and review more

than 125 pages of written material defining the Master Plan, CUP, CEQA

findings, and the Final EIR. More importantly, two designated public

locations for access to these documents were missing either the EIR or all

of the documentation. These issues were raised by the public and

summarily rejected by the commission.

 

 

II. The planning commission’s findings in support of their resolution (P07-01)

recommending certification of the Environmental Impact Report (SCH NO.

2004111149) are flawed both materially and procedurally. These flaws include but

are not limited to the following:

 

a. Final EIR for the project is not prepared in accordance with CEQA as

stated in Section 5; it is neither adequate nor complete.

 

b. Project includes impacts and mitigations that have not been

adequately identified or mitigated, yet commission recommends

approval on an “economic study” that has yet to be produced. This

information is not in evidence and has nothing to do with the findings that

the commission is required to determine.

 

c. Project is not at all consistent with the SCV General Plan yet deemed

to have no significant impact on its guidelines. The community has

repeatedly addressed myriad and significant conflicts with our General

Plan. Proposed projects must be consistent with the General Plan and the

commission is charged with determining these as part of their findings.

Instead the commission has abdicated this responsibility and based their

recommendations on an “economic study” that has yet to be produced.

 

d. Final EIR includes responses claiming SCV General Plan issues are

“not germane” to CUP approval. Again, proposed projects must be

consistent with the General Plan and the commission is charged with

ensuring these findings are met. Much of the justification used in the

findings identifies major developments not relevant to the actual area

where the project is proposed. Using this approach, land could be

developed at any density anywhere in the city regardless of zoning or any

General Plan guidelines.

 

e. Noise analysis is completely flawed; project is not exempt from full

disclosure of impacts due to city policies regarding noise. City

policies are not relevant to full disclosure of impacts in an adequate EIR.

This is mandated by CEQA which preempts city policy.

 

f. Revised square footage of project is grossly inaccurate in the

resolution and the DEIR. Revised final square footage of the project is

now listed as 855,831 sqft. (excluding parking) according to the DEIR and

the commission’s resolution. This figure must include all covered

structures as required by CEQA. The actual combined total is 1,764,831

sqft resulting in an underestimate of more than 909,000 total sqft.

Aesthetic, Light, & Glare impacts will ultimately require a Statement of

Overriding Considerations from city council and are greatly increased by

nearly 1 million sqft of parking structures. These structures are therefore

not exempt from full disclosure in the EIR as the developer suggests in

their response to Los Angeles County Fire Department’s correction (Letter

J) to include this area as a “covered structure” area disclosure.

 

g. Numerous “unavoidable impacts” and rejections of alternative

proposals are not properly justified. Impacts can and must be fully

mitigated. Repeated requests were made by the commission to reduce

heights, go underground, or further analyze alternate proposals, all of

which were largely ignored. All told, the total reduction in the development

is a mere 5% from the original proposal and reductions in parking

structures have resulted in parking shortfalls, not developer trade-offs.

Virtually every major impact can be substantially mitigated by reducing

size and density but the developer has been defiant. This defiance does

not now justify a recommendation for approval.

 

h. Community Response to August 2006 Notice of Preparation (NOP)

was not fully considered or addressed in the DEIR. The public was

given less than 15 days to respond (30 is required) and many, if not most,

of the relevant and substantial issues raised in the response were entirely

ignored in the RDEIR without explanation.

While the planning commission may contend that its action was a mere

“recommendation” of approval, it was also a duly noticed action that carries with it an

assumption that due diligence was applied by this recommending body and that Brown

Act protections were afforded to the public. In fact, both of these assumptions are

grossly inaccurate.

This entire process highlights magnificent failures of both our city’s staff and planning

commission to ensure the rights of the public and the General Plan they are charged

with protecting. Planning based on hasty approvals and lack of diligence will not lead to

the desirable economy and quality of life promised to our residents here in Santa

Clarita, nor is it in the best interest of civic planning or our valley’s medical care.

Given that this is a precedent-setting 25-year master plan development and that it

carries such significant implications for our next three decades of health care, we are

certain that our City Council will afford a full hearing to reevaluate our concerns and this

commission’s ill-conceived recommendations. The residents of this valley –both east

and west— deserve this from our leaders.

 

Respectfully,

David J. Gauny

Chairman, Smart Growth SCV