Tuesday, November 11, 2008

HMNMH Countdown: Reason 10 To Say No

Barring some compelling new information or developments, the issue of Henry Mayo campus expansion will be decided on November 19, 2008. The more cynical among us may say this issue was decided months or even years ago, and the vote on the 19th will be nothing more than a formality. I tend to agree, and I've made up some numbers to prove why.

Likelihood They'll Say "Yes" to the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Master Plan:
*Will say "Aye" instead of "Yes"

G&L Realty and Roger Seaver & Co. have performed some amusing tricks to try and win the councilmembers over. They reduced by a hundred-thousand square-feet here, threw in a healing garden there, but most of the changes have been superficial. The project remains far too ambitious and offers no guarantees of the new Inpatient Building we so desperately need. The proposed expansion will not enhance but diminish quality of life in Santa Clarita.

But, at the risk of stating the obvious, it's the City Council that has all the power. The C.C. has just as much right to say "No!" as "Yes!" to the Master Plan. It doesn't matter if there has been money spent to make new EIRs and draft new plans. If the project remains unacceptable--and it does--the City Council should show that they mean business and send G&L Realty back to the drawing board.

Over the days leading up to the big vote, I will be giving my top ten reasons to say no to the HMNMH Master Plan.

REASON TEN: Peters and Barstis (Arrogance and Condescension)

On September 23, the people of Santa Clarita had the distinct displeasure of listening to Craig Peters, Senior V.P. of Industrial Properties at CB Richard Ellis. (He also happens to serve on the hospital board). In his speech before City Council, Peters was arrogant and condescending. He presented the "argument" that if everyone in SCV knew as much as he did about commercial real estate, we'd understand why the Master Plan doesn't promise an actual hospital and why so many medical office buildings are going to be built. Our opposition to the expansion, he explained, grew out of ignorance.

On October 13, things got even uglier. In one of the most self-important and insulting letters ever published in TMS[1], Dr. John Barstis wrote "Community activists do not, in fact, have as much expertise as health care professionals and city planners. Thus the whole debate has been hijacked." The opinions of "community activists" were deemed inexpert and unwanted. Never mind logical arguments about conflicts of interest and the need for outside perspective. Barstis was none too keen on hearing what the unwashed masses had to say against the campus expansion he so desperately championed.

Why have Master Plan proponents been so condescending? Quite simply, they know the people of Santa Clarita aren't on their side. If we were in favor of the Master Plan, they would say things like "the people of SCV know what's best for their community, and we should listen to them!" But we aren't in favor. Thus, Peters and Barstis tried to convince the City Council that their opinions counted for more than ours. This is wrong, and it's the #10 reason to say "No!" to the Master Plan.

[1]Read it here, if you have the stomach.

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