City Council Erupts In Conflict
Find out the details of a very turbulent City Council meeting
With the Henry Mayo campus expansion debate in full swing, Councilmember TimBen Boydston made a surprise accusation that City planning staff had worked with former City employee Jeffrey Lambert (who now works as a consultant hired by Henry Mayo), in forming a plan to take the Henry Mayo Campus Expansion Plan before the City Council.
Boydston referred to a set of emails sent between Lambert, Santa Clarita Senior Planner Fred Folstad and City Planning Manager Lisa Hardy. In one email, Folstad made the note that “July 11th is the CC meeting, Marsha is usually absent from this one. And if Bob doesn’t vote, then all they will need is two votes.”
Boydston said that the emails make it seem like there’s collusion between the City staff and the Henry Mayo project personnel.
At that point, the half of the crowd that came to oppose the Master Plan erupted in applause.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste immediately called for a 10 minute recess, however before the recess could be called, Councilman Frank Ferry jumped from his seat and shouted at Boydston “How dare you attack City Staff!”
Councilman Ferry continued his rant, shouting at Boydston while Mayor Marsha McLean pounded the gavel trying to call order.
At this point, a member of the audience started to shout at Frank Ferry “Who’s money you gonna take now Frank?”
As the members of the City Council retreated, and the room calmed down, an air of utter uncertainty fell about. The Henry Mayo Campus Expansion Master Plan has proved to be as divisive of an issue as any other in the City’s history.
When the council returned from their recess, City Manager Ken Pulskamp gave a statement on record that said “Any allegations of collusion by City staff are offensive and not accurate.”
Pulskamp went on to say that, in regards to the email “what was being pointed out was a situation we wanted to avoid.”
With that issue behind them, the council took up with discussion and public participation, which included nearly two hours worth of comments.
At about 12:30am, the Council members stated the concerns or clarifications they would like to have addressed at the June 26th meeting, which include a lack of commitment for the project to actually provide additional hospital beds, and still unresolved traffic issues.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste said that she wants a guarantee that beds will be added in the plan, and also said that she would like to see one of the parking structures eliminated, and additional parking made up with more subterranean levels on the remaining structures. She also made several recommendations in the design of the campus expansion that include keeping the community tree area intact.
Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar went after the traffic. “If this plan goes forward as it presently exists, it is going to have a huge impact on that area,” said Kellar. “Your car count is going to be horrendous.”
Mayor Marsha McLean asked the independent consultants why a breakdown of other comparable hospital’s surrounding neighborhoods weren’t included in the study, and directed city staff to investigate if there is anyway to eliminate the eminent domain threat entirely. Eminent Domain has been noted as the only option to mitigate the traffic in the area that would be cause by the project’s construction, and would involve acquiring houses along McBean Parkway to build a right turn lane.
Bob Kellar also pointed out that he wishes Henry Mayo would have put some resources forth much earlier to investigate another hospital site in Santa Clarita, in a location where it would more centrally serve residents from both sides of the Santa Clarita Valley.
No decision was made at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, although expect another long and more precise discussion on the topic when it returns to the City Council on June 26th.
KHTS has covered the Henry Mayo Campus Expansion topic extensively, and you can access past news articles about this by typing “Henry Mayo” in to the search box in the top left hand corner of this page.