Monday, November 17, 2008

HMNMH Countdown: Reasons 7 and 6 To Say No

Note: Regarding plans for writing about HMNMH, Reasons 5 and 4 are written and will be posted later this afternoon. Reasons 3, 2, and 1 will be posted tomorrow. Finally, on Wednesday morning, I will post a drinking game for those of you watching the City Council meeting at home and those of you who like to bring a flask into the actual meeting. Hey, no judgement here.

Reason 7 To Say No: The Hospital Expansion Gave Me E.D.!

“City staff do not support the use of eminent domain on any residential properties to complete roadway improvements at that intersection.”

So wrote City Manager Ken Pulskamp in a letter sent to residents concerned that eminent domain would be used to improve traffic on McBean[1]. For someone professing to be stiffly against E.D., Pulskamp’s reassurances seem more flaccid than firm. Never once does he write “Your home is safe” or even “We will not use eminent domain.” No, he gave three reasons for a homeowner to be confident that City planners will at least try something else first. Why couldn’t he rise to the occasion and promise no E.D.? The second letter I've posted[2], sent out by David Gauny of SmartGrowthSCV fame, speculates why.

Ultimately, there would be huge homeowner protests over taking homes or forcing sell-outs under eminent domain. So that leaves us with reason number 6...

Reason 6 To Say No: Traffic

Increased traffic created by the hospital expansion will be a “significant and unavoidable” impact of hospital construction according to the Environmental Impact Report. As Santa Claritans and Southern Californians, we all know the exquisite pain of gridlock, idiot drivers, never-ending commutes... in short, we’ve met the beast called “traffic” and we hate it.

As such, City of Santa Clarita planners and the developer have gone to great lengths to assure us that traffic impacts (again, “significant and unavoidable”) are going to be mitigated by clever design. Unfortunately, McBean can be widened only so much, even with land dedications to the City by HMNMH. And even if widened for the blocks on which the hospital campus resides, all that traffic will eventually have to be mushed back into a narrower road.

McBean is the most important road in Santa Clarita. Making another reason for people to stop on McBean—whether it’s detours for 15 years of campus construction or visiting the new medical office buildings--is going to make a lot of trips longer and more unpleasant. The marked increase in building density could also exacerbate traffic problems on the campus itself, and no one wants that. If we knew we were getting a new Inpatient Building, we'd probably suck it up and deal with this traffic. But since we're not being guaranteed a bigger hospital, it's not worth crippling flow along McBean for for-profit G & L Realty.

[1]Read the City letter here


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Re Drinking Game: I love you, man.

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