City Council Asks For More Commitment From Henry Mayo
Council feels that new Development Agreement doesn’t go far enough to ensure a new hospital comes to the Henry Mayo campus
After three years of debate, some compromise and three drafts of a potential Development Agreement, Henry Mayo and G&L Realty failed to garner full Council support for their plan to expand the hospital campus.
Henry Mayo and their partner G&L Realty have been working to provide a mutually agreeable plan for building a large new hospital facility and three Medical Office Buildings. Two parking structures are also a part of the plan.
The Council, after public outcry, has been attempting to tie in a firm commitment on Henry Mayo’s behalf to actually build a hospital facility during critical stages of the project as a whole.
Two major documents will guide this plan through, pending City Council approval. One is a fifteen year Master Plan that will outline what gets built. The other is a Development Agreement that will determine how and when specific portions of the project are built.
In the third incarnation of the Development Agreement, Henry Mayo and G&L Realty proposed to not build the third Medical Office building until they start construction on a new hospital facility. Another tie requires that at least 20% of Medical Office building two be designated to “Centers of Excellence,” which will provide specialty medical care. An example of such a center is the Sheila Veloz Breast Imaging Center currently located on the Henry Mayo Campus. Also in the agreement however, was specific language that prevented Henry Mayo/G&L Realty from actually committing to building any part of the project.
The project’s main opposition group, Smart Growth SCV pointed to that lack of an obligation as testimony to their fears that the for-profit medical buildings could possibly be built without ever building a new hospital facility. This, they fear, would lump the traffic and visual impacts of the project on the surrounding community without the public benefit of a new hospital.
So, several new proposals were brought up by Councilmembers. TimBen Boydston and Bob Kellar agreed that a fair compromise would be to allow Henry Mayo and G&L to build Medical Office building one and Parking Structure one. Then, they felt that the new hospital facility should be required to start construction before Medical Office Building two could be built, as opposed to requiring it start before Medical Office building three. They went on to ask that Medical Office building three be deleted from the project completely, because they feel that it will be the main source of traffic problems in the area.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste provided a similar proposal. She asked that the hospital facility construction be started before Medical Office Building two is built, however in return, she was willing to delete the requirement that 20% of Medical Office building be dedicated to “Centers of Excellence.” She also wanted to keep Medical Office building three in the plan.
At this point, Henry Mayo CEO Roger Seaver illustrated the amount of commitment Henry Mayo would show even before construction on a new hospital began. He said that an estimated two years of planning, and a $5 million investment would be required to properly prepare and submit building specs to the state of California for approval on a new hospital facility. Therefore, he argued, the hospital should only be required to submit the plans for state approval before being allowed to occupy Medical Office Building two. This would allow them to build Medical Office Building two, just not actually move anybody in until the plans for the hospital facility were submitted for state approval. He also claimed that in order to secure the $100 million in funding needed to build the hospital, he needed to have the third medical office building kept as an allowable option.
Mayor Marsha McLean was not immediately willing to allow Henry Mayo to build Medical Office building two before a new hospital facility gets built. Her comments led to a request by Roger Seaver for a short recess. That recess was spent by members of both sides of the issue feverishly discussing alternatives.
When the meeting re-convened, Mayor McLean offered one more proposal. She suggested that a building permit for Medical Office building two could be obtained when plans for a new hospital facility are submitted to the state, and Medical Office building three could stay as an option. However, as a compromise, she asked that the hospital facility be shortened in height by one story. (Currently, the new hospital is designed to be five stories tall. Smart Growth SCV is fighting to get the height reduced to three stories, so a limit of four stories was thought to be a compromise by Mayor McLean.
This new plan did not sit well with Bob Kellar though; who said that he thinks a five story hospital would be tolerable because of its public benefit. However, he says, a third Medical Office building would provide too many traffic problems and therefore should not be included in the plan.
Now Henry Mayo will go back to the drawing board to look at several new things. They will consult architects on the possibility of reconfiguring the designs of the new hospital to maintain the number of beds, but lower the height by one story. They will also re-write some of the language in the Development Agreement to try and identify a more binding commitment to building an actual hospital.
And they will have plenty of time to think about it. Due to a forty-five day circulation period for a yet-to-be-complete revised Environmental Impact Report, the City Council will not continue discussion on the Henry Mayo Campus Expansion Plan until at least their January eighth meeting.